Alaska Marine Highway reduces winter service as LeConte, Aurora ferries docked for repairs

The Aurora, a 235-foot Alaska state ferry, approaches the dock in Whittier, its departure point for its trip across Prince William Sound to Cordova. (Photo by Nat Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

On Thursday, the Alaska Marine Highway System removed most of its previously scheduled sailings to and from the Upper Lynn Canal until spring.

The MV LeConte was expected to provide most of the winter ferry service to the Upper Lynn Canal this year. The ship is currently out of service for repairs.

According to a press release from the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, starting Oct. 31, there will be one ferry a week to Haines and Skagway. There will be no AMHS service to Angoon, Tenakee Springs, Pelican and Gustavus. Hoonah will receive service twice per month.

This week, CoastAlaska’s Jacob Resneck reported that the LeConte is in need of more repairs than originally budgeted. The Department of Transportation says it budgeted $1.2 million for the LeConte’s overhaul. Now DOT estimates that $4 million worth of work is needed. State officials have delayed work on the LeConte until further notice.

The MV Aurora, another ferry that services small coastal communities in Southeast, is also being overhauled this winter.

AMHS does not have the budget to repair both the LeConte and the 44-year-old Aurora. DOT officials say the plan is to bring both into dry dock for a side-by-side comparison next week to see which needs less work.

DOT says repair estimates for the Aurora should be available by Nov. 15, which will give a better estimate for future service.

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