Construction on Prince William Sound fast ferry begins

Chenega is scheduled to go into service in spring 2005; can carry 250 passengers

Posted: Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The second of two Alaska fast ferries is under construction on the East Coast.

Officials with the Alaska Marine Highway System and the city of Cordova took part in a plate-cutting ceremony for the state ferry Chenega on Thursday at R.E. Derecktor Shipyard in Bridgeport, Conn. From a home port in Cordova, the Chenega will serve Prince William Sound, said George Capacci, AMHS general manager.

The ceremony is equivalent to a keel-laying with a steel ship, he said.

"It's an event to signify the start of construction," he said.

The Chenega is scheduled to go into service in spring 2005. The 235-foot ship will be able to carry 250 passengers, 30 cars and 90,000 pounds of cargo. It will travel at 32 knots and serve Cordova, Valdez and Whittier.

The R.E. Derecktor Shipyard won a $68 million contract to build the Chenega and its sister ship, the Fairweather, which will serve Sitka and Juneau. Nigel Gee Associates of Southampton, England, designed the fast ferries.

The shipyard is about half done building the Fairweather, and the project is on budget and on schedule, Capacci said. The Fairweather, which has a similar design to the Chenega, should go into service in 2004, Capacci said.

Gary Graham and Kate Tesar, representing the city of Cordova, were joined by Capacci and Gavin Higgins, general manager of the Derecktor Shipyard for last week's plate-cutting ceremony.

In addition, the AMHS is having a 181-foot ferry built at Conrad Industries in Morgan City, La., to serve Ketchikan and Metlakatla. The ferry, which will travel at 12 to 14 knots, was designed by Coastwise Engineering of Juneau. It should go into service in spring 2004.

More information about the ferry projects is available at the ferry system's Web site at

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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