Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine, is beginning a comprehensive refit on Maine Seacoast Mission’s 74-foot telemedicine vessel SUNBEAM V. The steel-hulled boat has been delivering healthcare and other vital services between Maine’s islands and the mainland since her launching 24 years ago. This is SUNBEAM V’s first major maintenance period. At Front Street Shipyard, SUNBEAM V will undergo extensive hull maintenance, cosmetic updates, and equipment upgrades that will keep her in her critical service role as a telemedicine vessel with the Mission.

SUNBEAM V travels to Maine’s outermost island communities where healthcare access and mainland resources are limited. The boat is equipped with state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment and staffed by a registered nurse who connects residents with medical and behavioral healthcare professionals. SUNBEAM V and her five-person crew also host fellowships, meals, meetings, weddings, and funerals for islanders.

SUNBEAM V captain Michael Johnson will supervise the refit at Front Street Shipyard. “The boat’s fundamentally sound and serves us well,” said Johnson. The refitting “is the best choice going forward to get another 15, 20, to 25 years out of the SUNBEAM,” he said.

During the refit, Front Street Shipyard’s team will remove SUNBEAM V’s accommodations in order to reach all areas below deck. They will inspect and sandblast the steel hull, and add a barrier coat to ensure the steel stands up against rust in the years to come. Technicians will update SUNBEAM V’s mechanical and electrical systems as needed. The Mission is also taking advantage of the refit by requesting cosmetic upgrades and interior redesigns in the wheelhouse, bunk houses, galley, and salon. The refit will continue until December 2019.

SUNBEAM V arrived at Front Street Shipyard last week following her last mission trip to Maine’s islands, which ended in April. Maine Seacoast Mission will continue its telemedical work throughout 2019 with an interim vessel, MOONBEAM, while SUNBEAM V is undergoing her refit.

Front Street Shipyard president JB Turner said, “SUNBEAM V has had a critical role in the health and well-being of Maine island communities for almost a quarter century, and we’re honored to contribute to that ongoing mission through this refit. Having the opportunity to update and upgrade the capabilities of Sunbeam V will have a direct benefit to our fellow Mainers, which makes Front Street Shipyard’s entire crew proud,” Turner said.

Photos, video, and updates during SUNBEAM V’s refit will be posted on Front Street Shipyard’s social media.

Watch a video of SUNBEAM V’s captain discussing plans for the refit.