M/V Columbia

M/V Columbia sails into Vigor Shipyard in Portland last year for dry dock. (Photo courtesy AMHS)

The state ferry Columbia is transporting passengers again this week after being out of commission for nearly nine months.

It’s one of the marine highway’s biggest vessels. Jeremy Woodrow, the Alaska Department of Transportation spokesperson, says the ferry schedule should be back to normal.

“The good thing with the Columbia coming back online is that the Malaspina will now return to its day boat status in Lynn Canal so folks who live in those three communities which would be Juneau, Haines, and Skagway will see the Malaspina on a nearly daily basis now,” Woodrow says.

The Columbia was having its engine, propellers, and lifeboat replaced in Portland. The total cost of the repairs was an estimated $30 million. It was slated to be back in service last week. But on its way to Bellingham, the ship encountered some problems: the oil pump wasn’t working correctly.

“So they were able to actually identify the problem on the spot and work with getting the part replaced and work on doing the repairs,” Woodrow says.

Woodrow says, although late, the ferry is coming back at a good time. “June and July are the busiest months for the ferry system. With one of the largest ferries back in service it helps us accommodate passengers that want to get from community to another.”

To check the ferry schedule visit: http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

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