Ferry service in Kodiak will temporarily shut down in March

AMHS Ferry Tustumena in Homer

The Tustumena docked in Homer in 2009. (Creative Commons photo by Isaac Wedin)

The city of Kodiak, Ouzinkie and Port Lions won’t have ferry service from March to early April this year, because the Tustumena needs to complete its state overhaul — an annual process to make needed repairs and conduct mandatory inspections.

“We have to follow federal regulations that these inspections must be done,” said Capt. John Falvey, Alaska Marine Highway System general manager. “Some of them are yearly, some of them have to happen every five years. We have to pull the shafts and the propellers out every five years. There is (a) tremendous amount that goes into being very very sure that when that ship sails out of there they’re safe.”

The region experienced a similar gap in service last year, according to Falvey. But, he says, the Marine Highway used to be able to cover these absences.

“Now in year’s past, when we had 11 ships running, of course, we’re down to nine ships now because of budgets. We had extra money to cover these gaps. We had the money to run the Kennicott to go cover that potential four- or five-week gap that the Tustumena’s got that we just can’t afford to cover it because of budgets.”

These kinds of service gaps, Falvey said, could continue into the future if the Marine Highway doesn’t get more funding.

He estimates the Kodiak region should have normal ferry service again in early April.

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