The M/V Tustumena returns to service this week. It’s the only Alaska Marine Highway System ferry that sails between all 13 ports of call out the Aleutian Chain and regularly visits Kodiak Island.
The Tustumena’s first sailing since then will be on Saturday, when it departs Homer on its way to Kodiak.
The M/V Kennicott has been the only ferry sailing to Kodiak since the nearly 60-year-old Tustumena went into the shipyard for repairs back in December.
“The Kennicott’s been pulling double duty trying to fill in for Tustumena, but obviously it doesn’t provide as many runs as the Tustumena’s normal schedule, so it will be nice to have that boat back out there and doing what it does best,” said Sam Dapcevich of the state Department of Transportation.
The Kennicott was able to serve most but not all of the Tustumena’s port calls. Several communities in the Aleutians have had to skip ferry service all-together because the Kennicott is too large to make it into their smaller ports.
A replacement is in the works for the aging Tustumena, but the more than $200 million project isn’t expected to be completed for another five years.
Dapcevich says DOT hopes to begin construction on the replacement vessel next year.