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Steamship Authority buying two used freight boats

The Steamship Authority has identified two used boats from a Louisiana company to replace two aging Steamship freight boats.

The sale of the two vessels from Hornbeck Offshore will be about 11 million dollars in total, and the Steamship would put another 20 million dollars for conversion and reactivation costs to bring them both online.

The Steamship will make additional inspections of the two freight vessels before finalizing a sale.

The plan is replace the Katama and Gay Head, both that are over 40 years old.

Steamship operations director Mark Amudsen told Steamship board members during a meeting Tuesday that these would be an upgrade to the existing freight line.

“These will be much better at maneuvering in and out of our slips. With the safety systems on board, it is going to be a major upgrade to the existing fleet.”

The two boats from Louisiana are both approximately 11 or 12 years old, and have only been in service for 5 years, Steamship General manager Bob Davis said. Steamship officials inspected the boats in April, which have been stored in fresh water. Davis says the plan is to take them both to a dry dock to better inspect the boat hulls.

The 240-foot boats are classified as Lode Stars.

Vineyard representative James Malkin applauded Steamship staff for finding identical boats to purchase, which he says could help reduce delays caused by mechanical issues.

“It’s always seem to me that having sister ships, that are the same, with the same parts, the same repair structures, and the same mechanical issues known to all the mechanics — is a good thing," Malkin said. "So I’m delighted with that.”

The Steamship could purchase two more vessels from Hornbeck to further update its freight line.

Officials say building brand new boats is too expensive.

Sam Houghton has been with the station since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.