Washburn & Doughty launches new ferry for Maine service

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(EAST BOOTHBAY, Maine) — On Friday, Gov. Janet Mills and the Maine Department of Transportation in conjunction with its contracting partners at Washburn & Doughty Associates launched the ferry Capt. Richard G. Spear.

Fabrication began in August 2018 at Washburn & Doughty in East Boothbay. The vessel is 154 feet long and 38 feet wide. It’s estimated to weigh 465 tons. This new ferry has the capacity to hold 250 passengers and 23 vehicles. It was designed by Gilbert Associates of Braintree, Mass. The total cost including all design, engineering and construction work is $10.9 million.

“Maine ferries along with fishing vessels, containerships and others boats that make daily trips among our shores to feed our state, bring our goods to market and transport residents and visitors alike are an important part of our economy and an irreplaceable part of our history,” Mills said. “I am honored to help christen another Maine-made ferry, the Capt. Richard G. Spear, named for a man with life-long contributions to the Maine State Ferry Service and the city of Rockland. I wish the Capt. Richard G. Spear fair winds and following seas for many years to come.”

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Maine Department of Transportation photo

“We are fortunate that we were able to award this contract to a Maine company and that the construction of the Capt. Richard G. Spear was able to happen right here in East Boothbay,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce A. Van Note. “Teams of carpenters, designers, electricians, engineers, mechanics, painters, pipefitters and welders have logged thousands of hours to make this vessel seaworthy. We thank them for their dedication and hard work.”

“The importance of building Maine State Ferry Service vessels in the state, by Maine residents, should not be overlooked,” said Washburn & Doughty President Katie Doughty Maddox. “Washburn & Doughty employs a team of 90 craftsmen who take enormous pride in their respective trades and have created a national reputation for first-class steel vessels. The fact that the state need look no further than East Boothbay for new vessel construction is a boon to the state and to the livelihood of many Maine families. We are proud to build a first-class product for the state and look forward to the possibility of additional vessels in the future.”

The new Maine State Ferry Service vessel’s namesake, Richard G. Spear, led a full and interesting life that included more than 60 years in the maritime field. At age 17, Spear was part of a team that retraced Christopher Columbus’s voyage from Europe to America. Following that expedition, he returned to Rockland, finished high school and enrolled in the newly established Maine Maritime Academy, graduating in 1942 as a member of the school’s second graduating class. During World War II, Spear served in the merchant marine in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean war zones.

In 1959, Spear became the first employee of the Maine State Ferry Service. He was soon appointed manager and held that position for 30 years until his retirement in 1989.

After Spear passed away in May 2018, the members of the Maine State Ferry Service Advisory Board voted unanimously to name a vessel in his honor.

The ferry will now undergo several months of sea trials. It will arrive in Rockland later this summer and begin serving Vinalhaven.

– Maine Department of Transportation

By Professional Mariner Staff