State awards repairs of two ferries to Ketchikan and Seward shipyards

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The M/V Hubbard and M/V Tustumena will get capital improvements in 2022 with awards going to two Alaska shipyards.

The M/V Hubbard, one of the two “Alaska Class” ferries, will have crew quarters added to enable it to make longer voyages, reach more ports and thereby increase system-wide flexibility and the needed redundancy for reliability. The work was awarded to Vigor at the Ketchikan shipyard on Thursday.

The ship was originally built for the Upper Lynn Canal for day trips not requiring crew quarters, but when former Gov. Bill Walker killed the Juneau Access project, the ship was diverted to other routes, and now the state needs it for overnight runs.

The $15 million project will modify the ferry to construct eight single person staterooms on the bridge deck, and eight two-person staterooms on the upper deck. Additional work includes the installation of a galley, scullery, and mess spaces on the upper deck; a new fan room on the bridge deck; and extension of the existing port stair tower to the bridge deck to serve the new accommodations. Adding overnight quarters for crew greatly increases the cost of running the ferry.

“We need our ships to be flexible and able to provide the redundancy necessary for system-wide reliability.  Our fleet is aging and we need ships that can be Swiss Army knives with the capability to serve as many of our coastal communities as possible,” said DOT Deputy Commissioner Rob Carpenter. “These projects, along with the Tustumena Replacement Vessel, are part of our fleet modernization efforts. By reinvesting in our marine highway, we’re ensuring the economic viability of our coastal communities; connecting them to each other and the rest of Alaska’s transportation network.”

The $9.4 million Tustumena improvements were awarded to JAG at the Seward shipyard on Dec. 28. This work will contribute toward extending the ship’s service life until the replacement vessel can be put into service in approximately five to six years. Upgrades include refurbishing the main vehicle elevator, new exterior hull coatings – steel piping replacements, including black and gray water drains, bilge and ballast systems; ballast piping and valves; LED lighting upgrades and promenade deck upgrades.

The M/V Hubbard was the second Alaska Marine Highway ferry built in Alaska in 2018, along with its sister ship the M/V Tazlina. It is 280 feet long and has a capacity for up to 300 passengers and 53 vehicles.

The M/V Tustumena is one of oldest ships of the AMHS fleet, built in 1964. It is 296 feet long and has the capacity to carry up to 160 passengers, and 34 vehicles. It is one of only two certified ocean class ferries and is the only vessel capable of serving all 13 ports of call between Homer and Unalaska.

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