Kennicott resumes sailings after mechanical breakdown

The M/V Kennicott leaving Wrangell on Jan. 8, 2021 (Sage Smiley / KSTK)

The state ferry Kennicott will resume sailing Thursday after being sidelined in Juneau’s Auke Bay since last week because of a mechanical breakdown.

State Department of Transportation spokesperson Andy Mills said part of the vessel’s cooling system malfunctioned on Wednesday, and the U.S. Coast Guard would not allow the vessel to sail again until it was repaired or replaced.

“It was an unexpected mechanical issue that arose,” Mills said. “That’s why they didn’t have a spare part for it. It had been operating for quite a while without an issue.”

Mills said they had a replacement part — plus a few spares — sent into Juneau. Repairs were made over the weekend, and the ship has been cleared to resume its schedule. It’s headed to Ketchikan next.

Meanwhile, he said as many as 135 passengers and their vehicles were booked on the ferry for last week’s trip across the Gulf of Alaska.

Mills said the state asked the Canadian government for an exemption to allow Kennicott’s passengers and their vehicles to enter Canada without a passport or COVID-19 test.

“This Kennicott trip was a cross-gulf trip,” Mills said. “And, so we did work that out, and graciously the Canadian customs worked with us on allowing those passengers to transit up to Interior Alaska.”

Mills said those passengers took the ferries LeConte and Matanuska up to Haines before crossing through Canada.

He said some Kennicott passengers went with other options, such as getting a partial refund of their fares and flying on to their destinations.

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