Engineering marvel: Two Alaska fast ferries head to Spain on ‘the mother of all ships’


The fast ferries MV Fairweather and MV Chenega were towed in Ketchikan today to be loaded onto a massive submergible freighter, where they will be transported to Spain for ferry service between Spain and Ibiza.

It is quite the spectacle in Ketchikan and a scene that is seldom seen around the maritime world, but is happening now at the mouth of Ward Cove. (Photo credit: Michael Mastin)

The Fairweather is a catamaran that entered service in 2004, and was sold in March to Servicios y Concesiones Maritimas Ibicencas, along with the Chenega, which entered service in 2005 The vessels sold for a total of $5.17 million this year.

Amak Towing hauled the ferries to the Red Zed 1 heavy lift ship on Friday, using tugboats Ethan B and Jenny B. The Red Zed 1 has been in Ketchikan since April 2, while cribbing and blocking materials were brought in and other preparations have been made.

The transport of the ferries was delayed because of concerns they would sustain structural damage en route to Spain, and alternate methods were subsequently devised to secure the ferries to the Red Zed 1.

The Red Zed 1 will be lowered by pumping water into ballast tanks, and then when the ferries are loaded, the water will be pumped out, similar to how it works in this YouTube video:


  1. The fast ferries were a Tony Knowles debacle. They were a magnificent ride on a nice day, a real magic carpet experience. But they were not designed for Alaska waters, full of logs and root wads, and green water over the bow of even some of the existing ferries on sloppy days. Still, given the current (pre and post pandemic) coastal tourism industry I would bet the private sector could have found a way to make them work. Government should not be in business yet we find ourselves with a state government that is in the missile business, the campground business, the railroad business, etc. etc. The fast ferries are not by any means the worst this state government has done but it does illustrate very well how we recently went through $20 billion in one-time savings and have nothing to show for it.

  2. Just one of numerous financial disasters that past & present legislatures were a party to. It is truly a wonder that the State has ANY money left after the idiots we keep electing have anything to do with it!

  3. It’s with a heavy heart seeing Alaska selling off its AMHS vessels.
    A thought came to me after hearing about the Malaspinia may be going to the Philippines. If Southeast population continues to decline and Southeast local government refuse to develop its economy like no timber, then there is no point keeping the cultural landmark around while Southeast population is declining.

  4. Less than 10 cents on the dollar. Add to waste, fraud and abuse: stupidity. How many days have the Alaska Class ferries been in service? And who will get them at the bargain bin? We’re gonna need all the Permanent Fund to finance this racket. heheheh

  5. It’s pretty clear why the Filipinos in a nation of islands watch our failures to operate a ferry system and pick up our vessels for a fraction of the cost to build them, but even Spain can operate a ferry system at our detriment? The Mat-Su even got a ferry financed by the Navy, and Anchorage refused a port-of-call dock and killed ferry service in Cook Inlet where 90% of the population (both resident and tourist) are. Somebody bought a fast, shallow draft ferry that had never been in operation for a virtual sad song. Pathetic. But you can bet your life that there will forever be at least one ferry operating in Southeast so legislators will be able to get their annual free round trip ride for the legislative session and leg wrestling extravaganza.

  6. Need a toll booth on the Anchorage to Wasilla turnpike, so the above whiner’s can start paying their way.
    Another on the Potter flats for the weekend warrior heading to Homer.

  7. What a total Waste of money. This is what happens when professional government types are left alone to use their own judgment and the citizens are are busy living their lives and not participating in the process. No common sense and no accountability leads to more of this.

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