FAIRHAVEN -- In case you were wondering, it does have that new ferry smell.

Called a hybrid, she can carry freight, cars and passengers. — Steve Myrick

On Tuesday, the brand new ferry Woods Hole was at the Steamship Authorithy maintenance facility in Fairhaven, where various vendors were doing the final fitting out, crew members were getting used to emergency safety procedures, and engineers were making the final tweaks on the monstrous diesel engines.

Everything was shiny and new, and even veteran mariners who have operated and maintained large vessels their entire lives felt a certain excitement as the Woods Hole was being prepared for a short introductory tour of the Islands next week.

Next Monday at noon, there will be a commissioning ceremony for the new vessel in Woods Hole, the port from which she takes her name. From 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., the public will be invited aboard to see the new boat. After that she will make her maiden voyage to Vineyard Haven, where Islanders can get their first look from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The following day, the Woods Hole will motor to Nantucket, where the vessel will be open for viewing in the early afternoon.

Former SSA Capt. Ed Jacskon with steam whistle, an antique repurposed for a new era. — Steve Myrick

At the Fairhaven facility dock Tuesday, maintenance supervisor Peter Schweback was overseeing a delicate operation to load massive temporary fuel tanks aboard a flatbed trailer for the trip back to Louisiana, where the Woods Hole was built. The extra fuel stored on the freight deck allowed the ferry to travel nonstop from the Conrad Shipyard in Morgan City, La., to Fairhaven. The voyage began at 9:30 p.m. on May 31. Five full days later, on Sunday evening, the crew motored into Buzzards Bay and decided the better part of valor was to hang there until daylight, when passage through the New Bedford hurricane barrier and mooring on the pier was a bit less tricky.

Walking aboard, the first impression is how enormous the freight deck appears. Called a hybrid, the 235-foot vessel is designed to carry up to 10 full-length tractor trailer trucks, 55 passenger vehicles or some combination of both. By comparison the Island Home, at 265 feet, can carry 60 passenger vehicles on the freight deck and 16 more on the lift decks.

The middle or mezzanine deck on the Woods Hole is for limited storage and crew use, but will not be open to passengers. It was designed so that the deck does not protrude into the cargo hold, leaving all the space open for large trucks.

Two flights of steep stairways lead from the freight deck to the passenger deck. A large elevator accommodates passengers with disabilities. Warrior commuters will be pleased to find an electrical outlet and two USB computer ports at each of the dozens of tables on the passenger deck. And unlike other Steamship Authority vessels, there will be no need for the customary mad boarding dash, with passengers scrambling for the few tables equipped with outlets. The new boat can carry 384 people, including a crew of nine.

A peek underneath. — Steve Myrick

On Tuesday morning the Woods Hole was still getting her finishing touches; she will be completely fitted out by the time the public is invited aboard next Monday. Masking tape was stuck to the walls where art will be installed by the Woods Hole Historical Museum. Engineers were getting used to the massive electrical switching console. A cleaning company was scrubbing the vessel from stem to stern. Tables and seats got a final inspection. Crew members practiced man overboard drills, lowering two inflatable rescue boats over the side for practice.

Capt. Ed Jackson is excited about the new ship. He spent much of his career piloting SSA ferries from Woods Hole to the Islands. When he retired from that job, he went to work for Marine Systems Corporation in Boston, where he oversees construction of large vessels. When the SSA contracted with Marine Systems for project management, Captain Jackson was a good fit. He spent much of the past winter commuting to Louisiana to make sure everything went right.

“They built the hull upside down, and flipped it over,” he said. “All the modules were already under construction. They put it together like a puzzle.”

Above the passenger deck is another level, off limits to passengers. It includes crew quarters, a small galley, storage and the bridge, where the captain and mates will operate the vessel. The roomy bridge incorporates state-of-the art electronic navigation, radar and controls, with comfortable chairs and an impressive vantage point high above the water.

Above the bridge is an antique steam whistle, salvaged from the passenger steamer State of Pennsylvania, which operated out of Philadelphia and other ports from 1923 to 1960.

The upper deck. — Steve Myrick

“Now that’s a whistle,” Captain Jackson said. “It will blow your socks off. Islanders want to hear that whistle coming around West Chop. Most people won’t see this, but they’ll hear it.”

Below the freight deck are two 16-cylinder diesel engines, each capable of producing 2,680 horsepower.

“The engines are designed to run at full RPM all day long,” said Dave Taglieri, who represents the manufacturer, Atlantic Power Systems. They will push the Woods Hole along comfortably at 14 knots or more, though when taking advantage of the Gulfstream current during the voyage north, the ferry clocked a steady 18 knots for several days.

A new design feature is a large bulb integrated into the bow. It sits partially submerged while the vessel is at rest. While underway, the bulb is designed to push water away from the hull, allowing it to slip through the water with less friction, saving fuel.

Also a new feature for Steamship Authority vessels are controlled pitch propellers. The blades can be adjusted almost instantly to reverse the direction of the thrust, without slowing down the engines. During sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico last week, the crew tested the propeller system.

Next stop, Woods Hole. — Steve Myrick

“They did crash stops,” Captain Jackson said. “Full ahead, and flip the propellers.” According to the crew, he said, the ferry was able to go from full speed to a dead stop in a little bit more than the length of a football field.

Nearly every mechanical and electrical part of the boat has a redundant system for backup. In a compartment in the stern where massive hydraulic systems move the twin rudders, a four-inch joystick is mounted on the wall. If the steering systems fail, a crew member could operate the boat with that tiny joystick.

“You don’t want to get to that point,” said Captain Jackson. “But if you do, you can operate the steering from right here.”

The Woods Hole will begin operating to Oak Bluffs daily on June 17. During the winter months, it will run from Hyannis to Nantucket.

More photos of the new ferry.