The Alaska State Ferry Tustumena is tied up in Homer with mechanical problems.
The State Department of Transportation issued an alert Tuesday afternoon around 4 that the Tusty would miss its Tuesday sailing from Homer to Seldovia and back, as well as today’s sailing from Homer to Port Lions and Kodiak.
The Ferry System expects the Tusty to resume its regular schedule tomorrow (Thursday), arriving in Port Lions at 7 a.m. Friday before it heads on to Ouzinkie and Kodiak.
Marine Highway staff is contacting affected passengers, but for more information you can call your local ferry terminal toll-free at 800-642-0066.
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The Alaska Ferry Tustumena lived up to its nickname Trusty Tusty on Monday. While traveling from Sand Point to Old Harbor, the ferry helped tow a fishing vessel to safety.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker said the F/V Pacific Storm contacted the Coast Guard just after 7 a.m. reporting a broken transmission. The boat was anchored near Tugidak Island, and the Coast Guard issued a marine assist broadcast.
Alaska Marine Highway System Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the Tustumena was returning from its Aleutian Chain route when it picked up the broadcast and aided the vessel just before noon.
“The area that the Pacific Storm happened to be anchored was actually on the same tracking line that the Tustumena usually sails and so the vessel kept its course and was able to provide assistance and tow the vessel into a safer area, into Alitak Bay.” Continue reading
As summer sailings continue, the Alaska Marine Highway System is already looking toward the next season. The winter ferry schedule was recently released, covering sailings between October 1 and April 30.
Marine Highway System Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the schedule for Kodiak and its surrounding villages is fairly similar to previous years, with additional Tustumena stops added in Ouzinkie.
“Every other Friday, and that’s part of the public input that was expressed during the public comment period and so that’s really the major change that’s coming to the Kodiak island area – is that extra stop.” Continue reading
About two dozen people gathered in the Kodiak Public Library’s multipurpose room Wednesday night to hear about the state’s plan for replacing the aging ferry Tustumena.
David Larsen is a naval architect from Seattle who has been working on the design process since November. Even though the Tustumena underwent a significant amount of repairs last year, Larsen said it’s still a 50-year-old ship and that’s why the state is thinking about her replacement now, rather than later.
“As I’ve said you know we’re not going to have this new ship tomorrow, it’s 5, 6, 8 years down the road depending on the availability of funding. So it’s time to start thinking about it because it takes 3 years, 4 years to design and build a new ship.”
Larsen said he did the math on how many miles the Tustumena theoretically has from her half century of operation and estimates it’s around 3.5 million.
As for a replacement, Larsen presented preliminary designs for the ship, which will be 34 feet longer, 11 feet wider and 2 feet deeper than the Tustumena. He said it should be capable of carrying about 76 additional passengers, totaling about 250 people, and 16 additional vehicles.
Captain John Falvey, director of the Alaska Marine Highway System, was also at Wednesday’s meeting and said the ship will be smaller than the Kennicott so it can continue serving smaller ports.“Well what we’re trying to do with this boat, and what we did right from the very start of the entire project was to say we know how big the old Tustumena is – how big, and how much capacity, or in essence how physically big can we make the new Tustumena, and still get into all the ports we currently serve. And that’s it right there. We are pigeonholed right there. You start building a bigger ship and you’re not going to get into any of those ports, and that’s a problem. So we went as big and as much capacity as we could and still have a ship that can provide service to every one of those ports.”
Much of Wednesday’s meeting was spent answering questions and taking input on the new ship’s design. Some brought up the idea of making the ferry a drive-on, drive-off system – without an elevator – much like the ferries used in Southeast. Falvey said the issue is south central and Aleutian chain communities don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support that type of system.
People will have a chance to provide input on a replacement vessel for the ferry Tustumena. Tuesday night the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will hold an open meeting at the Kodiak Public Library to give folks an opportunity to add their voice to the department’s replacement process and hear what plans are already in the works for a new ferry.
Much needed repairs to the Tustumena last year kept the vessel out of the water for months on end and left many places in south central Alaska with reduced or no ferry service. That ordeal reemphasized to the state the need for a new ferry. While a new vessel is still a few years out, the final design is scheduled to be completed by summer 2015.
Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at the library’s multipurpose room and is open to the public.
Last night the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly decided to postpone a vote on its capital improvement projects priority list. An eight item list was before the assembly as a resolution, but concerns over one of the projects on the list, and the absence of three assembly members, led to its postponement until the October 3 regular meeting.
Assemblyman Mel Stephens took issue with the third project on the list, which asks for $500,000 from the state to look at extending public utilities to swampy acres. The thought is that more Coast Guard housing will be built in the area, which currently has no water or sewer lines. Stephens said it didn’t make sense that public money would be put toward a private property owner.
But Borough Mayor Jerome Selby said the hope is that the project would be a pubic/private partnership, and help soften Kodiak’s housing crisis. In fact, he said the item was put on the CIP list at the request of the housing committee.
“It’s a joint city, borough, Coast Guard housing committee. It is on here at the request of the Coast Guard because they are interested in doing a joint public/private construction of housing for the Coast Guard, since the probability of them being able to get funding for housing through the federal system is slim to none, given the federal budget picture. So the whole idea behind this was to be able to get some housing constructed for the Coast Guard so that they can have the option of bringing additional vessels. Because of the Arctic effort that’s now a Coast Guard responsibility, there is an opportunity to bring another vessel, I believe one C-130 and two helicopters to Kodiak, if there was housing available for them.” Continue reading