Mark Higgins, former director of the Maine State Ferry Service, has been named chief operating officer of the Steamship Authority.

Mr. Higgins, who starts his new job early next month, is the first to hold the position, which was created at the request of the boat line board of governors following a comprehensive study of SSA operations in 2018.

Steamship general manager Robert Davis announced the hiring at Wednesday morning’s board meeting in Falmouth, which Mr. Higgins attended in person.

“I’m excited to join the Steamship Authority,” Mr. Higgins told the board. “It’s a great opportunity.”

In his previous job, Mr. Higgins oversaw service to the Maine islands of Matinicus, North Haven, Swans Island, Islesboro, Frenchboro and Vinalhaven.

He also modernized the state’s fleet, overseeing the design and construction of what Mr. Davis said is one of the nation’s first ocean-going hybrid electric ferries to carry both passengers and vehicles.

“Attracting an accomplished maritime professional of Mark’s caliber to the Steamship Authority underscores our commitment to enhance and evolve service offerings as we chart a course for the future,” Mr. Davis said, reading from a statement.

While Maine’s state ferry service is supported with public money, Mr. Higgins told the board he also has experience with the funding model used by the Steamship Authority, having served as a director for the Casco Bay Island Transit District in Portland, Me.

“They’re a quasi-state-agency, but all of their operations are funded by fares and fees,” he said. “It’s a very different operation from what we ran at Maine State Ferry Service.”

Reporting to Mr. Davis, Mr. Higgins will be responsible for planning, directing, and overseeing the boat line’s departments for marine operations, shoreside operations and engineering, as well as the operations and communication center.

His position was among the top recommendations from the consulting team that spent much of 2018 studying every aspect of Steamship Authority operations.

The study followed a series of ferry and website breakdowns and resulted in a series of systemic changes at the boat line that have included creating the communication center, instituting a safety and quality management system with regular training and adding several new positions.

Directors of marine operations and shoreside operations were hired in 2018, but the job of chief operating officer was not created until last year after boat line governors pressed Mr. Davis, who initially had resisted adding another executive to the management chart.

A national search began last year, with Mr. Higgins the ultimate choice, Mr. Davis said. He will make $150,000, according to the Steamship Authority.

While he’s no stranger to islands, Mr. Higgins is a newcomer to Massachusetts after a lifetime in the state where he was born.

He graduated from Maine Maritime Academy with a degree in marine engineering technology, according to a Steamship Authority announcement released during Wednesday’s meeting, and is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a chief engineer, second engineer and third engineer for vessels of any horsepower.

Before joining the ferry business, he worked at global maritime operations including General Dynamics, Edison Chouest Offshore and Tidewater Marine International, according to the announcement.