Casco Bay invites shipyard bids for one new ferry, plans a second

Written by Nick Blenkey
Casco Bay Line Ferry

Casco Bay Lines new ferry will feature ABB's hybrid-electric power and propulsion solutions

The Casco Bay Island Transit District in Portland, Maine, continues to move right along with its plans to build a new 164 foot long ferry that will be equipped with a new diesel electric hybrid propulsion system and will replace the the Machigonne II, the passenger and vehicle ferry currently servicing Peaks Island.

Yesterday, Casco Bay Lines issued a Notice to Shipyards calling for sealed bids to be submitted. Bids will be received until 1:00 p.m, April 22.

“For general information regarding Bidding and Contracting procedures or for project specific information,” says the notice, “contact, fax or e-mail questions to Paul D. Pottle, Director of Projects at (207) 774-7871 ext. 119, fax 207-774-7875 or e-mail at”


Meantime, Casco Bay was among ferry operators to be awarded funding in the FY 2021 round of Passenger Ferry Grants announced last week receiving $3.6 million.

The funding will support the use of a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system in a second new vessel. This vessel is planned to replace the Maquoit II, an aging vessel in the Casco Bay fleet current serving the downbay islands of Casco Bay.

The transit operation maintains a fleet of five vessels to fulfill its mission of providing safe, dependable and reliable passenger, vehicle and freight service year-round to six unbridged islands in Casco Bay. Typically, passenger vessels have a “useful life” of approximately 30 years. While they can still be utilized safely beyond that point, repairs and maintenance become prohibitively expensive. Casco Bay Lines identified the need to replace two vessels in long-term planning. After securing funding to replace the Machigonne II, efforts shifted to funding the second necessary vessel replacement.

The Maquoit II, an indispensable vessel in the transit district fleet, will soon reach the end of its useful life. The ferry serves as a lifeline for five unbridged islands “down the bay”, carrying passengers and freight nearly 50 miles each day, 365 days a year, and delivering U.S. mail to the farthest reaches of the service area. Equipped with a heavy-duty crane, it is also the transit district’s primary freight-carrying vessel.

As part of prior work to replace the Machigonne, Casco Bay Lines’ staff and Board of Directors opted to pursue a diesel electric hybrid propulsion system for the new vessel in place of a conventional diesel mechanical propulsion system. With this grant award, the second replacement vessel is also positioned to utilize this innovative technology. Casco Bay Lines estimates this propulsion system in the new downbay vessel will eliminate more than 1,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually over the vessel’s 30-year lifespan. It will also dramatically improve the rider and neighbor experience by significantly reducing exhaust fumes and eliminating excessive engine noise and vibrations found on existing vessels.

“It has been our hope, since we began the significant undertaking of replacing these two aging vessels, that we would have the opportunity to utilize this technology and reduce our climate impact in a meaningful way,” said Hank Berg, General Manager of Casco Bay Lines. “As we embark on the Maquoit replacement, this grant award makes it possible to double-down on our efforts. Our partners across the region have acknowledged the importance of modernizing our transit systems and we’re incredibly grateful for their support in this application.”

The design phase of the Maquoit II replacement project is expected to begin later this year. More information is available here.

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