Second Alaska ferry temporarily taken out of service within one week

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2004

The Alaska Marine Highway System on Thursday pulled its second ferry off-line in a week, after its Ketchikan shuttle ferry encountered engine problems.

Earlier this week, the fast ferry Fairweather was taken out of commission for a day after striking a cruise ship mooring dolphin in Skagway.

The 180-foot ferry Lituya was traveling from Metlakatla to Ketchikan at 9:28 a.m. Thursday, when the starboard main engine shut down after a smoldering air-intake filter triggered the ship's exhaust gas temperature alarm, according to the state Department of Transportation. The vessel's crew removed the smoldering filter and notified U.S. Coast Guard officials in Ketchikan.

The vessel was traveling at a top speed of about 12 knots, with 26 passengers and five crew members onboard, said Transportation Department spokesman John Manly.

Ferry system officials said the vessel, which operates five trips per week between the two communities, will be out of commission today.

"We're hopeful it's going to be back on schedule by Saturday," Manly said. It is the first time since the vessel began operations in May that it has been taken off-line, he said.

A Caterpillar engine technician will inspect the ship today to determine if any repairs are necessary.

"We expect the Cat technician to be able to return to its schedule as soon as possible," Tom Briggs, deputy commissioner for the Department of Transportation, said in a prepared statement.

The $9.5 million Lituya is the newest vessel in the state fleet and was designed by Coastwise Corp. of Juneau in 2001. It was built by Conrad Shipyards in Morgan City, La. It can accommodate 15 vehicles and 150 passengers.

Manly said any repairs to the ship would be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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