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Poor, frightening choice for ferry design

Posted: March 3, 2013 - 1:13am

I was shocked to read about the proposed “day boat” design that incorporates an open deck design.

As a 33 year resident of SE Alaska, retired Coast Guard Commander, and user of the ferry system, I can’t believe that they are even considering an open deck option.

Dennis Egan was correct in asking what impact the freezing spray would have should the vessel have to turn around. However, the issue is not freezing spray when the ship turns around in heavy seas. Rather, the issue is the ship LOSING POWER, and NOT BEING ABLE TO MANEUVER. Those of us in the marine safety business know that casualties at sea tend to be caused not only by bad weather, but also other factors that suddenly appear. Just consider the recent Carnival Triumph casualty in warm water, where the ship (full of the latest modern technology) lost power and had to be towed, taking it several days to reach safety.

Those of us who ride the ferries for both business and pleasure have experienced being in the Solarium of the LeConte on the aft portion of the ship and having freezing spray hitting the solarium as the ship shuddered and shock through heavy seas.

Having an open deck in North Lynn Canal with a ship “in extremis” and rolling in heavy wind and seas due to loss of power is frightening. Alaska is called the ‘Land of Extremes” for a reason.

Jim Sepel

CDR USCG Ret.

Accredited Marine Surveyor

Chair, Alaska Boating Safety and Advisory Council

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