ROCKLAND — The ferry Captain Richard G. Spear made its first official run Friday afternoon to serve Vinalhaven.

The $10.2 million new ferry was launched on April 9, 2021 at the Washburn & Doughty shipyard in East Boothbay, but the vessel was not delivered to the Maine State Ferry Service dock in Rockland until the middle of January 2022.

There is always a delay when a newly constructed vessel comes to the Ferry Service because the local U.S. Coast Guard officer in charge of marine inspections has to issue the initial certificate of inspection, and the crews need to be trained. In addition, the Ferry Service has to develop periodic test procedures according to the Coast Guard regulations.

The Spear will join the Captain E. Frank Thompson in serving Vinalhaven, located 15 miles off Rockland. About 45,000 passengers use the Vinalhaven ferries each year.

The vessel was named after Captain Spear, who died in 2018 at the age of 96.

Spear was the first employee of the Maine State Ferry Service and was involved in creating both the old ferry terminal and the subsequent one that currently serves people traveling back and forth from Vinalhaven, North Haven and Matinicus islands. He served as ferry service manager for 30 years, retiring in 1989.

He remained on the Ferry Service Advisory Board until his death.

Spear helped guide legislation through the Maine Legislature to create the Port District in 1954 to oversee freight and passenger transportation for Rockland. He was elected to the Port District in 1954 and city residents reelected him every four years. He served as chairman until his death.

The Rockland man was a 1943 graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy.

Photo by Stephen Betts

Photo by Stephen Betts