Martha's Vineyard Ferry Power Outage Strands Passengers in Sound

March 23, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Power outages, while unpredictable – and always a nuisance with the potential to cause damage – are somewhat expected in many weather related scenarios.  It’s why so many people fill their gas cans in advance of Nor’Easters, hurricanes, and other major storms systems.  But, the truth is, outages can happen at any time, in highly unexpected situations.

A passenger ferry lost power last weekend, 15 minutes after leaving Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, stranding the 78 passengers on board, along with 10 crewmembers, in Vineyard Sound.  An emergency generator was activated and restored power, but the crew was unable to restart the engines, though it certainly helped keep the majority of the passengers calm with lights functioning.  By 10:00pm, tugboats arrived to tow the ferry back to the small island – a popular vacation spot for many – and the stranded passengers were accommodated at a local hotel.

While the cause of the power failure is under investigation, the situation is a reminder that power outages can happen at any time and can impact both residents and businesses.  In addition to the inconvenience of power loss – and having to sit anchored offshore for several hours, in this case – there’s always the question of additional damages caused but the initial outage or during power restoration, even when starting temporary generators.

For business, it can create a disastrous series of events, including loss of equipment and data, time and labor to assess the damage, cost of replacement technology, time and labor to install and configure new equipment and restore systems and applications.  That’s not even factoring in lost business opportunities due to system unavailability. 

In the case of the Martha’s Vineyard ferry, while the cause of the outage is being investigated, there’s certainly the potential that a spike in power could have damaged other systems as well.  In fact, the cause of the outage could have been a fractured circuit that had previously been weakened by surges, another potential scenario for any electrical equipment.

The bottom line is this:  to properly protect equipment and technology, businesses should be aware of the risks and potential damages.  Power protection systems insulate network technology and infrastructure from outage- and surge-related damage and allow businesses to function normally instead of having to expend time, effort, budget dollars, and IT resources on repairing damages.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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