(BELFAST, Maine) — Front Street Shipyard is beginning a comprehensive refit on Maine Seacoast Mission’s 74-foot telemedicine vessel Sunbeam V. The steel-hulled boat has been delivering health care and other vital services between Maine’s islands and the mainland since its launching 24 years ago.
This is Sunbeam V’s first major maintenance period. At Front Street Shipyard, Sunbeam V will undergo extensive hull maintenance, cosmetic updates, and equipment upgrades that will keep it in her critical service role as a telemedicine vessel with the mission.
Sunbeam V travels to Maine’s outermost island communities where healthcare access and mainland resources are limited. The boat is equipped with state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment and staffed by a registered nurse who connects residents with medical and behavioral health-care professionals. Sunbeam V and its five-person crew also host fellowships, meals, meetings, weddings, and funerals for islanders.
Sunbeam V Capt. Michael Johnson will supervise the refit at Front Street Shipyard. “The boat’s fundamentally sound and serves us well,” said Johnson. The refitting “is the best choice going forward to get another 15, 20, to 25 years out of the Sunbeam,” he said.
During the refit, Front Street Shipyard’s team will remove Sunbeam V’s accommodations in order to reach all areas below deck. They will inspect and sandblast the steel hull, and add a barrier coat to ensure the steel stands up against rust in the years to come. Technicians will update Sunbeam V’s mechanical and electrical systems as needed. The mission is also taking advantage of the refit by requesting cosmetic upgrades and interior redesigns in the wheelhouse, bunk houses, galley, and salon. The refit will continue until December.
Sunbeam V arrived at Front Street Shipyard last week following her last mission trip to Maine’s islands, which ended in April. Maine Seacoast Mission will continue its telemedical work throughout 2019 with an interim vessel, Moonbeam, while Sunbeam V is undergoing its refit.