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Tustumena out of service indefinitely

Some communities will be without ferry service until vessel's return to service

Posted: July 26, 2013 - 2:08pm  |  Updated: July 28, 2013 - 12:09am

The ferry Tustumena will remain in drydock indefinitely. The Alaska Marine Highway System announced Friday that repair work on the Tustumena failed U.S. Coast Guard inspections. The 50-year-old ferry– which serves communities from Homer to Kodiak and out to the Aleutians– went in for repairs last fall. Tustumena sailings are now cancelled through September.

The ferry Kennicott has taken over some of the Tustumena’s route. Due to the Kennicott’s large size, four communities are without ferry service until the Tustumena returns. AMHS said it considered reassigning the Kennicott from its regular summer schedule but decided against it.

“With no reasonable alternatives available, the department has increased its efforts to ensure the shipyard delivers the vessel as soon as possible, while meeting all required safety regulations,” a statement read.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports that Kodiak City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski announced during a council meeting Thursday that the Tustumena would not return to service before the first week of October. The announcement came ahead of a vote on a council resolution that asks Gov. Sean Parnell and the Alaska Legislature to “develop a long-term solution immediately to ensure the Kodiak region receives scheduled and uninterrupted service from the Alaska Marine Highway System.”

The Mirror reported that many local businesses have suffered during the summer season because of infrequent ferry service.

The State of Alaska is in the early stages of replacing the Tustumena, which could take at least four years.

Until the Tustumena is repaired, the Kennicott will offer service to the following Southcentral and Southwest communities:

Whittier

Chenega Bay

Homer

Seldovia

Kodiak

Old Harbor

Sand Point

King Cove

Cold Bay

Unalaska

The following communities will be without ferry service until the Tustumena returns to service:

Port Lions

Ouzinkie

Chignik

False Pass

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