Blog : A Portsmouth Maritime Favorite Gets a Green Make-Over

By Corey | May 25, 2015 | in

By Kristyn Lak Miller

During the summer season, the M/V Thomas Laighton is a common sight plying the waters in and around Portsmouth harbor. This bright white, 340-passenger vessel celebrates the natural beauty of the New Hampshire seacoast; so it’s only fitting that it took a green approach to its recent renovations.

“The first eco-element of the renovation was the demolition of the vessel interior,” says Captain Jeremy Bell, co-owner of the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, which runs the M/V Thomas Laighton. “We were able to recycle, reuse, or donate about 50 percent of all the demolition materials, including several hundred pounds of steel from the old railing.”

For the renovation itself, all interior lighting was replaced with high-efficiency LEDs that use less mercury and lead than traditional lighting. The new interior carpet is made from recycled content and, along with the new ceiling tiles and ceiling grid, is recyclable. Additionally, when planning the renovations, Bell thought long-term about the ship's sustainability. A stainless steel railing system was installed to replace the old railings. This new system will last the life of the vessel, and eliminates the need for the epoxy-based paint necessary to maintain the old rails.

“From a business perspective, we depend largely on the natural beauty of the environment,” says Bell. “Using eco-friendly products is one way we can help keep the environment healthy and looking good! The eco-elements we incorporated were competitive with traditional products from a cost and performance standpoint, making their use an easy decision. Every time we tackle a project we look for the best available eco-friendly option, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Underscoring the company’s dedication to the environment, both vessels in the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company’s fleet—the M/V Thomas Laighton and Celia Thaxter—use a bio-diesel fuel blend purchased from a local supplier, and all the waste engine oil is recycled; all beverage containers are recyclable; and the Celia Thaxter has a hand towel system in its restroom that eliminates paper waste. In addition, the company encourages full-time employees to telecommute in winter, provides internships to area students, and employs local retirees for seasonal positions.

“We’ve also reduced the size of our trash dumpster and installed a single stream recycling dumpster,” says Bell. “This not only reduced our usage by at least 50 percent, but it also reduced our overall trash disposal expense. We also switched to a different type of cup [for the beverage stations onboard] which can be recycled. The per-cup cost is more expensive, but it was offset by our reduced trash bill since cups were one of the main items being thrown into our trash dumpster.”

As part of its environmental commitment, the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company is a partner with the Green Alliance, a locally driven union passionate about bringing together environmentally-friendly businesses while also providing its members with discounts on green products and services. Green Alliance members get a free companion ticket for tours and “Party Ship” events, and a 15 percent discount on private charter bookings.

“Everyone is becoming more eco-conscious, including our business partners,” says Bell. “We are the ferry service for Star Island—our largest client—which has undergone amazing changes toward sustainability, like recently installing the largest solar array in New England on Star Island. We want to align our business practices and goals with those of our customers and business partners so they can feel good about enjoying the services we offer.”

M/V Thomas Laighton is the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company’s largest vessel with a 340 passenger capacity, three decks, ample exterior and interior space, room to seat 150 guests inside for dinner, four restrooms, three full-service bars, and the flexibility to host almost any event. It is used for sightseeing tours, party ships, fireworks cruises, and more.
Its charters include weddings, rehearsal dinners, family/high school/college reunions, and corporate events like meetings, dinners, celebrations, and fundraisers; and its ferry service includes transporting guests to and from Star Island.

With the welcome warm weather after a harsh winter, Bell is excited to show off the Laighton's upgrades.

“We can't wait for everyone to see the Laighton,” he says. “This is the first major interior renovation since the Laighton was constructed.”

For more information on the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, visit www.islesofshoals.com.