The head of the Alaska Marine Highway System is stepping down.
Captain Mike Neussl’s departure comes on the heels of a decision by Governor Sean Parnell to scale down the Alaska Class ferry project. Instead of one larger vessel for Lynn Canal sailings, Parnell wants to build to small shuttle ferries.
Neussl says his resignation is not fallout from the issue.
“I wouldn’t characterize it that way,” Neussl says. “It’s a mutual agreement between myself and the commissioner, and that’s how it’s going forward.”
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Pat Kemp is fairly new to the job himself. Kemp was appointed commissioner December 22nd after serving as interim commissioner since October following the resignation of Marc Luiken.
Neussl’s last day of work as Deputy Commissioner for Marine Operations will be next Friday, January 11th. He’s been ferry chief since March 2011.
Nuessl says he’s grateful for the opportunity to work with AMHS staff. And while he’s often been the face of the system when something breaks down, there’s an upside.
“It’s been a very interesting experience dealing with all the communities, and actually seeing and realizing how important the ferry system is to the communities we serve,” he says.
Neussl says he has no plans for another job right away. He didn’t get much of a break after his last one.
“I was retired from the Coast Guard – I did a 30 year career – prior to being asked to take on this position, and I did, and enjoyed it,” Neussl says. “I’m going to go back to retirement and do some projects around the house.”
There’s no official word yet from the DOT on Neussl’s replacement.
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