Current Promotion

Current Promotion

Current Promotion

Current Promotion

Current Promotion

Current Promotion

HMS report

M/V Martha's Vineyard

In 2018, the Steamship Authority commissioned a comprehensive review of its operations, which was conducted by HMS Consulting and Technical, Glosten Associates, and Rigor Analytics. The review was to cover five topics: vessel operations, fleet maintenance, management structure, information technology systems and public communications.

In December 2018 and February 2019, the findings of that study were released. The 10 recommendations were: 


i. Adopt a Safety Management System

ii. Adopt a Quality Management System

iii. Adopt a Learning Management System


iv. Mission Statement and Objectives

v. Strategic Planning


vi. Engineering Resources

vii. Health, Safety, Quality and Environmental Management

viii. Vessel Operations


ix. External Recruitment

x. Performance Objectives/Accountability

Click here for the report and links to background materials

The Authority and HMS Consulting subsequently scheduled a three-day implementation workshop, which was
held June 5–7, 2019. It included a full-day Board workshop, a full-day of staff meetings; and a follow-up Board
meeting. The goals of the sessions were to identify initiatives from the ten (10) recommendations; to develop
strategies to accomplish each of these initiatives; and to plan the implementation of those strategies, including the time and cost involved with each.

Ultimately, the workshops and meetings resulted in the creation of seven (7) project plans for implementation:

• Safety Management System/Quality Management System
• Learning Management System
• Mission Statement
• Strategic Planning
• Engineering Resources
• Vessel Operations
• Performance Metrics

Current status of recommendations

Recommendations: Adopt a Safety Management System & Adopt a Quality Management System

Status: Complete

The Safety Quality Management System combines both aspects of the Safety Management System and Quality Management System recommendations. The SQMS project focuses on developing a process-based culture of continual improvement at the Steamship Authority. A safety management system has been built from the ground up that includes policies, plans and procedures to manage operational safety and customer experience. The SMS system focuses on vessel operations, while the QMS system focuses on shoreside and administrative operations. 

RINA, a multinational inspection, certification and engineering consultancy, has issued Voluntary Safety Management Certificates for vessels and facilities that were inspected during its initial audit in January 2023: the M/V Eagle, the M/V Martha’s Vineyard, the M/V Nantucket, the M/V Gay Head, the M/V Katama, and the Authority’s Administrative Office. A subsequent audit was held in April 2023.

Recommendation: Adopt a Learning Management System

Status: Complete

In April 2019, the Steamship Authority entered into an agreement with Marine Learning Systems Inc. to provide the Authority with its first-ever process-based Learning Management System (LMS) program. Marine Learning Systems’ proprietary software, MarineLMS, will act as the Authority’s central hub for delivering and managing its marine and shore side training and assessment programs. The secure web-based platform will be accessible to all Authority personnel, which in the summer includes more than 700 individuals.

News release: Steamship Authority chooses Marine Learning Systems to provide Learning Management System services

Recommendation: Mission Statement and Performance Objectives

Status: Mission Statement complete; Performance Objectives in progress

At its November 19, 2019 meeting, the Authority Board voted unanimously to adopt a new mission statement for the Steamship Authority. The mission statement will serve as the backbone for the Steamship Authority's strategic planning, employee performance evaluations and overall operations in the future. 

The adopted mission statement reads as follows: 

Our mission is to operate a safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system for the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket with a commitment to sustainability, accessibility, our port communities, and public engagement. 

Background on Mission Statement project

Recommendation: Strategic Planning

Status: In progress 

The Steamship Authority is working with Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. to develop a strategic plan following a RFP process in 2022 that culminated in a Board vote in December. The plan is expected to be created throughout 2023, and updates to the project will be posted on this page for public review. 

Recommendation: Engineering Resources

Status: Complete 

The Steamship Authority committed to hiring five new members of its engineering department as part
of its efforts to satisfy critical resource needs in that department. The positions being filled were two
additional port engineers, one additional assistant port engineer and two new positions – a project
engineer and an assistant vessel maintenance manager.

Recommendation: Health, Safety, Quality and Environmental Management

Status: Complete 

The position of Health, Safety, Quality, and Environmental Manager was added to the Authority's management structure in 2019. The position is responsible for, among other items, the implementation of the Authority's Safety Quality Management System. 

Recommendation: Vessel Operations 

Status: In progress

In 2019, the Authority added a director of marine operations to its management team to unify the vessel operations and engineering teams under one management structure. 

In 2022, the Board created the position of chief operating offer (COO) to elevate the level of decision-making for the Authority’s core disciplines so that, when there are conflicts between divisions, there is someone well-placed within the organization to resolve the conflicts and make the ultimate decision. The position was filled in 2023. 

The SSA's organizational chart will also be redesign to address reorganization of operations departments
(marine operations, shoreside operations, and engineering) to address chain of command, shared functions, lines of reporting, modified job descriptions, and delegation of authority.

Recommendation: External Recruitment

Status: Ongoing

On an ongoing basis, the Authority balances external recruiting with internal promotion for key roles.

Recommendation: Performance Objectives/Accountability

Status: To follow strategic planning process

The project will develop and maintain metrics tied to the strategic plan for measuring the performance of SSA supervisory staff.

Background materials 

Following several days of workshops with the Board, Port Council and staff, the Authority Board on June 8, 2019 approved the following plans to implement the recommendations contained in the HMS report. 

Safety Management System/Quality Management System

Learning Management System

Mission Statement

Strategic Planning

Performance Metrics

Engineering Resources

Vessel operations

Please see the following documents for an overview of the initiatives and a timeline of the implementation plans: Initiative Summary | Initiative Timeline

June 5, 2019 presentation - implementation workshop (first day)

June 8, 2019 presentation - implementation workshop (final day)

Island sessions held on HMS Consulting report

The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority held public sessions on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to allow island residents to learn more about the results of the comprehensive review of the Authority’s operations issued by HMS Consulting, Glosten Associates and Rigor Analytics. The review covered five topics: vessel operations, fleet maintenance, management structure, information technology systems and public communications.

March 4, 2019 HMS Presentation on Nantucket

March 5, 2019 HMS Presentation on Martha's Vineyard

December 17, 2018 HMS presentation

Comprehensive Review of the Steamship Authority's Operations 

Staff Summary #GM-708 from General Manager Robert B. Davis

HMS media release

HMS Presentation at December 17, 2018 Board Meeting

Video of December 17, 2018 Board Meeting (Part 1) (Part 2)

February 9, 2019 HMS presentation 

Supplement to the Comprehensive Review of the Steamship Authority's Operations

HMS public communications media release 

HMS presentation on public communications supplement to the Comprehensive Review

Video of February 9, 2019 Board Meeting 

January 22, 2019 Board meeting

Staff Summary #GM-709: Initial Thoughts About the Final Recommendations and Implementation Plans from HMS Consulting Comprehensive Review (including draft organizational chart options)

February 9, 2019 Board meeting 

HMS Proposal for Implementation Services (approved by the Board)

Staff Summary #GM-710: Proposed Process to Proceed with Implementation of HMS Consulting Recommendations (The Board approved creation of director of marine operations and HSQE director positions, as well as issuing Request for Proposals for consulting services to develop and implement a Safety Management System and Quality Management System.)