Larger Budget for Alaska Marine Highway System

After a full winter of reduced service because of ferry breakdowns Alaska lawmakers approved $66.7 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System in April that is expected to keep the System operational through the year and provide at least one ferry as a relief vessel if another breaks down. The budget also adds $19 million for repairing the ferry Aurora, currently laid up, and for adding crew quarters to one of the system’s two newer ferries, either Hubbard or Tazlina, to extend the vessel’s operating range.

However, the outbreak of COVID-19 is impacting shipyard work and this is expected to delay the return-to-service of a number of vessels, including Columbia, Kennicott and Tustumena, which are now not expected to resume service until later this month.

By Pacific Maritime