LeConte sent south for repairs

Private catamaran hired to serve SE towns except Pelican

Posted: Friday, December 09, 2005

The state ferry LeConte has been sent to Seattle with a propulsion shaft problem and will likely be out of service at least through the end of December.

The Taku will adjust its schedule to serve Kake and Hoonah, according to Alaska Marine Highway System officials. The Aqualina, a private catamaran, has been enlisted to serve Juneau, Hoonah, Kake, Petersburg, Angoon, Tenakee Springs and Sitka while the LeConte is out of service.

That leaves Pelican without two scheduled ferry stops planned during the holiday season - Dec. 16 and Dec. 30.

The Pelican community is trying to find a landing craft or "some kind of freight service" to deliver goods and vehicles to and from Juneau before Christmas, said Norm Carson, president of the Pelican Visitor Association.

Sending the LeConte to Seattle for the repair job will result in a quicker turnaround than if the vessel was dry-docked in Ketchikan, said Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman John Manly.

Web links

The revised ferry schedule can be viewed at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/schedres/scheds/FWS_0506.htm.

The Ketchikan Shipyard is unable to take the LeConte right now because of previously scheduled work on other vessels, said Jim Beedle, operations manager for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Repairs to the LeConte could cost about $250,000. It sailed from Ketchikan on Wednesday night to Seattle's Todd Shipyard.

"It's able to operate but it's not allowed to carry passengers," Manly said.

He said the Seattle shipyard is equipped to remove the shafts - which turn the ferry's propellers - and mill new parts.

There was a possibility that Ketchikan couldn't have completed the repair job, Manly said.

"It's very specialized, heavy equipment and it takes a lot of expertise to work on these things," he said.

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