The Maine State Ferry Service took delivery in late March of the $9.25 million Captain E. Frank Thompson, a 154′ ferry built by C&G Boat works, Mobile, Ala.
The vessel is now the second largest in the state ferry fleet, trailing only the Margaret Chase Smith, which is 166′. The Governor Curtis, built in 1968 and replaced by the Thompson, now becomes the state’s primary backup ferry. The state will retire the current backup, the Everett Libby, which was built in 1960. The Thompson is the first new ferry for the state since the Captain Neal Burgess in 1993.
The Thompson has capacity for 22 cars and 250 passengers and will service the 15-mile route between Rockland, Maine, and the island of Vinalhaven. The island has a year-round population of roughly 1,200, but the summer population can swell to four times that. In all, about 150,000 passengers a year take the route, which is also serviced by the ferry Captain Charles Philbrook.
Top speed for the Thompson is 12 knots. It is propelled by Caterpillar engines, and has tankage for 6,000 gals. of low-sulfur diesel. It will be operated by a crew of five and captained by Peter Drury and Daniel Martin.
The vessel’s namesake, E. Frank Thompson, was a Navy veteran and long-time captain in the Maine State Ferry Service. He grew up on Vinalhaven and died in 2003.
The Thompson entered service on April 9. An official christening for the vessel was scheduled for April 21.