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State seeks injunction against ferry manufacturers

Posted: September 16, 2011 - 7:21pm  |  Updated: September 18, 2011 - 12:05am

The state Attorney General’s office filed a motion with the state Superior Court, First Judicial District in Juneau on Friday on behalf of the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) and the Alaska Marine Highway System, asking for a preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit over the fast vehicle ferry (FVF) engines. The motion seeks to protect the state against the prolonged loss of use of the two fast ferries due to engine degradation.

The motion asks the court to order the defendants, Robert E. Derecktor, Inc., MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH and MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc to take all necessary actions to prevent a disruption in service caused by the engine erosion problems. The motion calls for this action even before a final court determination is made over legal responsibility for the engine degradation.

ADOT&PF purchased the FVF Fairweather and the FVF Chenega from Derecktor Shipyards in Connecticut in 2004 and 2005, respectively. ADOT&PF contends in the lawsuit the engines were warranted to last 25 years and 100,000 operating hours. The engines have developed an erosion problem that’s significantly reduced their operating lives.

The defendants in the suit have previously attempted repairs, but ADOT&PF believes that these efforts have not properly remedied the problem.

In 2010, ADOT&PF brought suit against the defendants, alleging they provided and installed engines which have not met contract and warranty requirements. Through the motion for preliminary injunction, ADOT&PF seeks protection in advance of the final resolution of this lawsuit against the prolonged loss of use of these vessels should the current engines be decertified for their intended use in passenger vessels.

Given the approximately one-year lead time needed to produce these engines, the state could find itself in a position where the currently installed engines are decertified for continued use well before the final lawsuit resolution. This could remove the Fairweather and Chenega from operational service.

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