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Fairweather won't return before June 1
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JUNEAU - The Fairweather fast ferry will be out of service longer than expected after maintenance workers found more extensive mechanical problems while repairing its engines, state officials said.
The Fairweather has been at the Ketchikan Ship and Drydock for repairs to its four diesel engines. Maintenance workers also discovered damage to the ship's reduction gears. The Fairweather, previously scheduled to return to service in mid-April, will not return before June 1.
The Chenega fast ferry, currently taking the Fairweather's previous schedule, will continue to operate in Lynn Canal and to Sitka through April 13, when it is scheduled to be redeployed to Prince William Sound. The Chenega will conduct crew training in Prince William Sound until May 3, when it is scheduled to begin passenger service.
"We will be without a fast vehicle ferry in Southeast waters from April 13 to at least June 1," said Capt. John Falvey, general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System. "Our intent is to repair the FVF Fairweather and return it to service as soon as possible."
Customers who have booked trips on the Fairweather will need to schedule alternative sailings.
Ferry system offers Glacier Bay sailings
JUNEAU - The Alaska Marine Highway System is taking reservations for two Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve sailings this month aboard the Malaspina ferry.
The first sailing leaves from Auke Bay on Tuesday, April 25, at 8 p.m. and returns to Auke Bay on April 27 at 6 a.m. Boarding begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The ship will tour Glacier Bay all day on Wednesday, stopping to view tide water glaciers and wildlife along the way, and leave the bay at 10 p.m.
The second sailing leaves from Auke Bay on Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. and follows the same itinerary as the first trip, with an arrival back at Auke Bay on April 29.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Alaskans to see Glacier Bay. No other ship spends the entire day in these beautiful waters," said Capt. John Falvey, general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
The fare for adults is $125 and, for children 2-11 years of age, $82. A variety of cabins are available for an additional cost. Passenger tickets and cabins may be reserved and paid for in person or by calling the Juneau reservation office at (907) 465-3941, or at the Auke Bay ferry terminal.
Dinner will be available on the evening of departure and the cafeteria and lounge will be available throughout the voyage. Passengers may park their car on the ship for an additional $20.
For ticket information contact Alaska Marine Highway System ticket office at (800) 642-0066 or vist http://www.ferryalaska.com.
Panel restores public broadcasting budget
JUNEAU - Most of Alaska public broadcasting's operating budget for next year has been restored after a panel had recommended drastic cuts.
The full Senate Finance Committee in its operating budget bill, released Wednesday, included $470,000 for public television and $2.5 million for public radio.
Just last week, a subcommittee headed by Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, had recommended eliminating public television's budget and cutting $582,900 from Gov. Frank Murkowski's request for public radio.
But when the bill was brought to the full committee, Co-Chairman Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, put back 75 percent of the public television money and all of the public radio money.
Public broadcasting officials across the state had warned the cuts proposed by Dyson could have resulted in the loss of public television service to half the state.
The committee will work on the budget until next week, when Wilken plans to send it to the Senate floor.
Fort Wainwright soldier killed in Iraq
FORT WAINWRIGHT - A Fort Wainwright soldier was killed Thursday while conducting operations in Iraq, according to the Army.
The solider was killed at 12:55 a.m. when a bomb detonated near his vehicle in Bayji, Iraq. Bayji is about halfway between Mosul and Baghdad on the Tigris River.
The Army said the soldier's relatives have been notified. No other information, including the soldier's name, was immediately released.
West Coast salmon fishing restricted
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Federal regulators voted Thursday to impose severe restrictions on salmon fishing off the coasts of Oregon and Northern California to protect dwindling populations in the Klamath River.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council decided to close most of the 700 miles of coastline to commercial salmon fishing for much of May, June and July, the most productive months of the season, which runs from April-October. Federal fishery officials said the closures were the broadest ever imposed on the West Coast salmon fishery.
"This is going to be a horrible year," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association. "It's not a total closure, but it's the closest thing to it."
The council's decision, which members described as "brutal" and "gut-wrenching," still must be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which generally follows the panel's recommendations.