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Ketchikan shipyard sets sights on ferry

New Alaska-class ferry closer to being built By PAT FORGEY

Posted: April 24, 2012 - 11:04pm

Ketchikan’s Alaska Ship & Drydock has signed an agreement that, if all goes well, will result in the state’s next ferry being built in that city.

“This is great news for Ketchikan, but it’s also great news for the state to be able to build the new ferry” in Alaska, said Doug Ward, spokesman for Alaska Ship & Drydock.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced Tuesday that the Alaska Marine Highway System’s newest ferry would be built under the agreement.

“I’m pleased to see that the design work for this new vessel can now begin in earnest,” said Mike Neussl, the department’s deputy commissioner for marine operations.

He said the vessel, called an “Alaska-class” ferry, will be designed to efficiently handle shorter runs throughout Southeast, burning less fuel and needing less staff than the big “mainline” ferries.

The signed agreement joins ASD with the state and Elliot Bay Design Group, the state’s naval architect, to work together on the vessel’s design.

When the design is complete, with the shipyard’s input, it will then have the opportunity to negotiate a guaranteed maximum construction price.

That doesn’t guarantee that ASD will get the final construction contract, but significantly increases both the chances of getting the contract and a successful outcome, Ward said.

That’s all part of what’s known as the “construction manager/general contractor” process. That’s a new way of building things; the builder is involved in the process from the very beginning, Ward said.

This is the first time it has been used in Alaska for a vessel, but DOT has built buildings using the process, he said.

Once design is done ASD provides the guaranteed maximum price and the state will decide whether it is fair and reasonable.

It may then develop a contract around that price. The idea, Ward said, is that there should be no surprises for anybody in the process.

And the CM/GC process, he said, has a track record of coming in on time and on price better than traditional bidding methods.

The state has appropriated $120 million for the Alaska-class ferry project. State officials say they’d like to build additional ferries as well, using the same design to cut costs.

Alaska Ship and Drydock operates the Ketchikan Shipyard under a long-term private/public partnership agreement with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

ASD is a subsidiary of Vigor International, which bought the local Ketchikan company earlier this year but retained local management.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com

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