Illustration provided by Jacob Turgeon ’02: HSV Alakai, (The CAT) underway from Detyens Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina to Portland, Maine as she embarks on her first season of the renewed international ferry service operated by Bay Ferries Limited.
CAT on the Run

MMA alumni make up more than half of the crew aboard a unique ferry where “fast” is the operative word.

If you’ve visited Portland, Maine, lately, or glanced out to sea from many points along Maine’s midcoast, you may have seen the sleek catamaran passenger ferry recently acquired for the revived service between Nova Scotia and Maine.

Since the spring of 2016, the HSV Alakai, commonly known and branded as the CAT, has carried nearly 135,000 passengers between Portland and Yarmouth, offering approximately 120 daily, round-trip voyages per season from early June to mid-October.

The CAT has many unique attributes, most notably her top speed of 45 knots, classifying her as one of the fastest passenger vessels operating in North America. Another, which may not be so commonly known, is that she is home to nine Maine Maritime Academy alumni, serving in a range of crew billets and collectively accounting for more than half of her marine department. Each MMA alum has his or her own story of the path that led to Alakai, and though all are different, they are equally interesting, much like the story of Alakai herself.


Alakai was launched from Austal, USA (Mobile, Alabama) in April 2007. She was purpose-built to serve as an inter-island roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry between Oahu and Maui, deploying on her maiden Hawaiian voyage in August of the same year. The Hawaiian service, however, was short-lived, and operations were discontinued in 2009 due to various challenges, and both Alakai and her sister ship, Huakai, came under the ownership of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).

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