Kennicott to Replace Tustumena for Spring Ferry Runs

Wednesday, February 20 2013

M/V Kennicott/Courtesy of AMHS

The 'Trusty Tusty' won’t be living up to its name this spring. The Alaska Marine Highway System announced Wednesday that the ferry Tustumena will be out of service until at least June. Spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says workers found unanticipated problems with the vessel during routine maintenance this winter.

“So they need to replace some steel on the vessel that had deteriorated to the point where it was deemed unsafe if they were to put the vessel back online," Woodrow says.

The repairs will mean some schedule changes for Southwest Alaska and the Aleutian chain.

“We’re definitely going to have to mix things up a bit," Woodrow says. "What we’re going to do is we’re going to have the Kennicott run the chain."

The Kennicott is a larger ferry that normally runs between Bellingham and Southcentral Alaska. It will do two runs out to the Aleutians in April and May, as opposed to the Tustumena’s scheduled three.

“And the benefit of that is that the Kennicott can actually provide over twice the capacity of the Tustumena," Woodrow says. "So, for running all the way to Unalaska, we actually are going to be able to improve the amount of goods, vehicles and people that can go to Unalaska, as opposed to the Tustumena running three times.”

The downside is that the Kennicott is too big to call in many of the smaller communities along the chain. The ferry will have to skip Akutan, False Pass, and Chignik, as well as several villages on Kodiak Island. Those communities will get service once the Tustumena is back up and running, probably in June. Woodrow says workers are still assessing the extent of the repairs.

“So as we get closer to that time, maybe in another couple of months here, we’ll know how those repairs are going, and if there actually is any more work that needs to be done or not. And we’ll definitely make another announcement if this vessel is going to be delayed.”

Woodrow adds that everyone with bookings for April and May has already been notified. The new schedule is online at  AMHS' website.

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State Taking Bids to Refurbish M/V Tustumena

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