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June 21, 2024

Casco Bay Lines names general manager to succeed Hank Berg

Ferry travelling on Casco Bay File Photo / Jim Neuger Casco Bay Lines' five ferries transport more than 1 million passengers and 35,000 vehicles a year. The Machigonne II shuttles both between the Portland waterfront and Peaks Island.

The new general manager of the Casco Bay Island Transit District, which runs Casco Bay Lines, brings nearly 30 years of leadership and operational experience to the job.

John Warnock’s unanimous appointment is scheduled to become effective July 22.

“I look forward to starting out by riding the boats to meet captains and crew and Casco Bay Islanders,” said Warnock. 

He succeeds Hank Berg, who retired Dec. 1 after nearly 14 years with the district.

A search committee comprised of the ferry system's board members from Peaks, Long, Great Diamond and Cliff islands worked with recruiting firm ProSearch to evaluate 75 applicants, interview seven candidates and bring two to visit Casco Bay Lines. 

Semifinalists rode boats to Peaks and Long and met with some island residents as well as three members of Casco Bay Lines’ senior staff and the union president.

“John Warnock brings a history of learning, excelling at new challenges, effective management and helping companies leverage technology to improve productivity and lower costs,” said Jean Hoffman, chair of the search committee.

Warnock served in the Navy for 29 years. At the Navy Operational Support Center Norfolk, in Virginia, he was the department head in charge of 2,500 reserve sailors in 123 units. The position included mission deployment and asset management.

He went on to nGROUP Performance Partners, a South Carolina-based organization that does workforce management and helps companies use technology to increase productivity and lower costs. As a senior and regional operations manager, Warnock oversaw managers and supervisors and 80 associates across three distribution centers in Virginia. 

He’s coming to Casco Bay Lines from Worldwide Counter Threat Solutions LLC, based in Virginia, where he helped clients with strategic planning and communications, process improvement and IT transformation. Most recently, as a strategic communication analyst, Warnock provided analysis and interpretation of federal and military codes, laws, operations orders and directives, as well as communications, staff collaboration and program management.

At Casco Bay Lines, Warnock will lead a team of management, marine and shoreside personnel which grows from over 40 year-round employees to 90 in the busy summer season. He will be responsible for leading day-to-day operations and long-range planning.

“My focus will be on safety first, on excellent service to islanders, good employee relations and sound fiscal management,” Warnock said.

About the ferry service

Casco Bay Lines operates passenger, vehicle and freight service year-round. Its ferries transport more than 1 million passengers, 35,000 vehicles and over 500,000 pieces of freight annually. Casco Bay Lines also delivers the U.S. mail and transports island students to and from Portland. 

The fleet currently includes five vessels, with capacities that range from 297 to 399 passengers. Casco Bay Lines recently completed a three-phase, decade-long expansion of its terminal on the Maine State Pier in Portland. The original terminal was built in 1988 and designed to accommodate only half the current passenger volumes.

The ferry service is one of the oldest in the country, tracing its roots to wooden steamers that carried summer visitors nearly 150 years ago.

A new ferry is under construction, to replace the 36-year-old Machigonne II, which carries passengers and vehicles to and from Peaks Island.

The $22.8 million, 164-foot hybrid-power ferryboat, under construction in Rhode Island after six years of development, is expected to be delivered by November or December.

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