Due to construction work to replace Kodiak’s Pier 1, the state ferry Tustumena will be docking at Pier 2, also known as City Dock. The Tusty will be joining the ferry Kennicott at its usual tie-up spot.
However, passengers will still check in at the ferry terminal office at Pier 1.
The change went into effect yesterday, and is expected to continue until May.
Here’s a link to more information.
It’s not uncommon for the Tustumena ferry to get held up on its trips through the Aleutian Chain. Usually, it’s due to rough weather or mechanical issues.
But this Sunday, the Tustumena spent some extra time in Sand Point so local police could investigate alleged drug smuggling.
Officer Eric Tupper says he received a call from a ferry employee while the vessel was still on its way into port.
”Somebody on board was seen with what appeared to be a plastic bag with a white powder in it. They were requesting that I try to search the bags or locate the white powder because they were unable to do so.”
This isn’t the first time that Sand Point police have heard about drugs allegedly coming into the community on the Tustumena. But those tips usually come after the fact.
In this instance, Tupper says he was able to board the vessel as soon as it arrived in Sand Point. He met up with two passengers who had been flagged as suspicious and searched by Tustumena staff – which is allowed, according to Alaska Marine Highway System policies.
Tupper asked a third passenger to step off the ferry for questioning. That woman was carrying a mixed vial of pills in her luggage. With help from the local clinic, police determined that the prescriptions were valid.
“So it ended up being [that] we didn’t find any drugs. But we take any clue about drugs very seriously because of the drug problem and we’re going to investigate it as seriously as we can, and take every step we can to make sure that drugs aren’t coming [in]. And I think that we did that successfully.”
Tupper wouldn’t point to any specific cases, but he says police have been making progress on stopping illegal drug sales in Sand Point.
The weekend storm in the Gulf of Alaska forced the Alaska State Ferry Tustumena to stay tied up in its Kodiak homeport until this morning.
Sailings scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were cancelled do to high seas and storm warnings.
The 300-foot Tusty finally resumed to service this morning at 5:45 when it departed Kodiak for Ouzinkie and Port Lions, before sailing for Homer.
Marine conditions in Kodiak Island, Shelikof Strait and Barren Island waters remain unsettled, with gale warnings for east winds to 35 knots and seas of 10 to 21 feet.
More information on the Tusty’s schedule can be found at Ferry Alaska dot com.
State officials are hoping the ferry Tustumena’s replacement will be bigger, faster and more efficient — but they also say the current ferry doesn’t need to be retired just yet. Tuesday, the ferry system updated the House Transportation Committee.
Captain John Falvey is the general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System. He was on hand to talk about preliminary designs for the ferry that will replace the aging Tustumena.
But he emphasized that he believes the Tustumena will keep running for a few more years. That’s after long delays and complaints about the quality of work done in drydock in 2012.
“We actually got a lot done during that project. We accomplished everything that we needed to accomplish, it just took a little longer. Okay? So what I’d like everyone in the room to know is we’ve still got some life left in the Tustumena, and reliable life.”
For when that life runs out, they’re starting to design a new, larger ferry to replace the Tustumena. The ferry travels in the summer from Homer, out the Alaska Peninsula and along the Aleutian Chain, culminating in Unalaska.
Many of the harbors where the 296-foot Tustumena stops are small and shallow, and that can be a challenge for a big boat. Falvey says the 382-foot Kennicott ferry couldn’t access five of ports in the Aleutians when it filled in on the Tustumena’s route.
“Our first task as we began looking at the design of the ship and the size was, we’ve got to be able to service every single port that the Tustumena goes to, okay, and was there some way to do that and build a little bigger ship?”
The answer, he says, is yes — with a 325-foot vessel. It’ll also be wider, which Falvey says should give passengers a smoother ride. Other specifications: The new ferry will hold 250 passengers, as opposed to 174. It’ll offer more berths to stay in. It’ll carry 52 vehicles as opposed to 36, with longer lanes and better loading abilities. And it’ll cruise at 15 knots as opposed to 13-point-8. Continue reading
Seward Ship’s Drydock was only supposed to spend a few months fixing up the Tustumena ferry. Instead, it took them a year to finish extensive repairs on the 50-year-old vessel. Now, the shipyard is now seeking extra payment from the state of Alaska.
The winter storm overnight forced the state ferry Tustumena to spend the night in its homeport of Kodiak. Last night’s 9:45 p.m. sailing to Homer was cancelled as was this morning’s scheduled run from Homer to Seldovia.
The Marine Highway System expects to announce an updated schedule this morning.
A storm warning remains in effect for the waters between the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak, with northeast winds to 50 knots and seas to 17 feet. In addition, a heavy freezing spray warning is in effect for the Barren Islands west, Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay.