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The Captain Spear launched at ceremony

By Stephen Betts | Apr 09, 2021
Photo by: Maine Department of Transportation The Captain Richard G. Spear was launched Friday morning, April 9 at the Washburn & Doughty Shipyard in East Boothbay.

The newest member of the Maine State Ferry Service fleet was launched April 9, named after a well-known Rockland man.

The Capt. Richard G.Spear glided into the water April 9 at the Washburn & Doughty shipyard in East Boothbay.

Gov. Janet Mills, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Maine Maritime Academy President  Dr. William Brennan, Washburn & Doughty President Katie Doughty Maddox, and Capt. Spear's daughter, Linda, were at the christening and launch ceremony.

"My father was a true gentleman. He had a dry sense of humor and made friends easily as he traveled the world. He loved his family and the sea. We are proud to see his name on this ferry," Linda Spear said at the April 9 ceremony.

The $10.9 million vessel will undergo sea trials and arrive in Rockland later this summer when it will begin to serve Vinalhaven.

The 156-foot-long vessel will replace the 130-foot vessel Captain Charles Philbrook.

The Philbrook will be used as a back-up ferry for the ferry service. The 1968-constructed ferry Gov. Curtis — which is now used as a back-up vessel — will be taken out of service.

The Captain Spear can carry 250 passengers and 23 motor vehicles. The Philbrook carries 17 vehicles.

The Spear will join the 154-foot long Captain E. Frank Thompson in serving Vinalhaven, located 15 miles off Rockland. About 45,000 passengers use the Vinalhaven ferries each year.

Capt. Spear 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 Rockland 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.

Capt. Richard Spear.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills spoke Friday, April 9 the launch ceremony for the Captain Richard G. Spear. (Photo by: Maine Department of Transportation)
Capt. Richard Spear's daughter Linda spoke at the ceremony, (Photo by: Maine Department of Transportation)
(Photo by: Maine DOT)
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Comments (3)
Posted by: Rick Winslow | Apr 10, 2021 12:49

Always saw Dick in the old ferry terminal and sometimes piloting one of the ferries across the bay. He was a common appearance around the Rockland waterfront.

The last time I saw him he was in Hannaford not many years ago and we talked quite a bit. Mostly reminiscing with him about some of the events crossing the bay. You could see it in his eyes how fond he was of those memories. He had a smile on his face and  an occasional chuckle. He loved his chosen profession.

Dick was a man that kept the ferries moving. This new vessel is Maine built in his name to continue the job into the future.


Posted by: Valerie Wass | Apr 09, 2021 10:00

Thank you for sharing, Steve.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 09, 2021 08:29

I had the honor to have known and worked with Dick Spear over the years.  I think God threw away the mold after making this man.  A decent, humble hard working man who worked tirelessly to complete any task.  I remember a call I received several years ago from Dick asking me to come look at a 40 year old washing machine he was having trouble with.  I arrived to find the control completely disassembled all over the kitchen table.  " i think I know what's wrong, just need to replace this one part".  I grabbed an old box of parts and together we repaired it.  I believed it functioned up until his death.  What a Guy. Sure there will not be another.

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