New Metlakatla ferry christened

Louisiana-built $9.7 million federally funded vessel will transport up to 150 passengers and 18 vehicles

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Alaska Marine Highway System's newest ferry, the Lituya, was christened Friday in a ceremony at Conrad Shipyards in Morgan City, La., by Carolyn Leman and Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.

The Lituya, named after a glacier that empties into Lituya Bay on the outer coast of Glacier Bay, will make runs between the Southeast communities of Ketchikan and Metlakatla in spring 2004. Alaska statute requires all state ferries to be named for Alaska glaciers.

"Alaskans, and especially those in Metlakatla, are delighted to have had this ship built," Carolyn Leman said before smashing a bottle of champagne on the ship's bow. "We thank the men and women of Conrad Shipyards for constructing this wonderful ferry."

The 180-foot ferry carries up to 150 passengers and 18 vehicles, and travels up to 12 knots, or about 15 mph. The $9.7 million federally funded vessel was built by the Louisiana construction firm Conrad Industries.

The Lituya is one of two new ships that will join the Marine Highway System next year. In November, Gov. Frank Murkowski and First Lady Nancy Murkowski attended a christening ceremony in Bridgeport, Conn., for the new fast ferry Fairweather. The Fairweather will service the communities of Juneau, Sitka, Haines and Skagway beginning next spring.

The ferry design of the Lituya is based on ships used as offshore supply vessels for oil field work, according to the state Department of Transportation.

DOT Commissioner Mike Barton, Deputy DOT Commissioner Tom Briggs and AMHS General Manager George Capacci also attended the ceremony.

"As the Marine Highway evolves, we continue to try to provide the best possible service to the communities we serve," Capacci said in a prepared statement. "The MV Lituya, dedicated specifically to Metlakatla, will help us do that. The addition of the Lituya to the fleet also enables us to reposition other vessels, such as the Aurora, to better serve other communities."

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.



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