Steamship Authority governors voiced their strong approval this week for the job Robert Davis has been doing in his first year as the boat line’s general manager.

Through a series of unforeseen ferry breakdowns and trip cancellations this spring, “the general manager did a spectacular job handling every situation with poise, knowledge and professionalism,” said Barnstable governor Robert Jones. “He rose to the occasion and put the Authority back on an even keel.”

The five governors and members of the port council were asked to grade Mr. Davis numerically in three areas: goals and objectives, elements of management and management of authority. Most assigned marks ranging from 87 per cent to 92 per cent for each.

Mr. Jones, along with Vineyard governor Marc Hanover and Falmouth governor Elizabeth Gladfelter, arrived at a 90 per cent overall rating for Mr. Davis, who was hired from within the Steamship Authority in June 2017 to replace retiring general manager Wayne Lamson.

Ms. Gladfelter hailed Mr. Davis as “tireless” throughout the months-long spate of service disruptions that began in March.

“Bob Davis has had a lot on his plate since his very first day in office,” she said. ”Many managers never get an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, but keep things moving smoothly when there are no problems. Bob got to see what it was like with problems.”

Ms. Gladfelter also praised Mr. Davis for rallying employees, developing solutions and looking for expert consultants to help solve mechanical issues that have plagued the fleet.

Board chairman Robert Ranney of Nantucket gave Mr. Davis the highest grade of all the governors. “He’s handled all kinds of adversity and still he keeps his sense of humor,” Mr. Ranney said. “But — here comes the but — there is always room for improvement,” he continued, assigning an overall 97 per cent rating.

New Bedford governor Moira Tierney took a sterner approach, giving Mr. Davis an 80 per cent grade for his first year on the job.

“I thought 80 is a pretty good grade, given it’s your first year as general manager,” she told him. “I don’t think anyone in the first year of their job, unless they’re Jesus Christ, should get 97 per cent.”

Ms. Tierney said she felt Mr. Davis could have been more responsive to individual governors’ concerns about the public relations nightmare that accompanied the prolonged series of service disruptions earlier this year.

“Marc and I presented our concern that we should hire a crisis manager at the very beginning of the problems that we had,” she said. “You were not open to that suggestion. I think that there was a little bit of a struggle with the old ways of the culture of the Steamship Authority, when in fact we were hearing from our customers very loud and clear that we have to adapt.”

But Ms. Tierney had only warm words for “the way you treat our employees, some of the most spectacular employees that any organization has ever had. You get 100 plus and that says it all. You’ve done, all things considered, a great job.”

Port council chairman Robert Huss said his board gave Mr. Davis an 87 per cent grade overall.

“We all agreed that Bob did a good job,” Mr. Huss said. “He had a tough year.”

Mr. Davis’s list of goals for the coming year may need to be revised once the final report on boat line operations is received this fall from contractor HMS Consulting & Technology, governors said.

In addition to evaluating and acting on the HMS report, Mr. Davis’s to-do list has several items aimed at improved communication between the boat line and its customers, as well as within the organization.

These include developing an operations and communications center at the new administrative building in Falmouth, adding electronic ticketing for walk-on passengers with mobile devices, seeking a qualified contractor to develop a mobile application and setting up a dedicated web server for emergency web hosting services.

Continued progress on the Woods Hole terminal reconstruction also figures large in Mr. Davis’s list of objectives. Some items are under way now. Bids have been accepted for a permanent canopy over the passenger loading area and sewage pump-out modifications in both Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Davis also plans to continue pursuing federal and state capital grants and exploring the long-term possibility of freight service between the Vineyard and New Bedford.

Tuesday’s meeting was held in the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s spacious third-floor function room.

City mayor Jon Mitchell prefaced the meeting with words of welcome for the governors, who also honored retiring SSA human resources director Phillip Parent.

Mr. Parent joined the Steamship Authority 48 years ago as a ticket seller working for Mr. Lamson. As HR director, he has hired “hundreds” of SSA workers, he said with a smile.