The Alaska ferry M/V Tustumena will return to service on July 15. Due to extensive refurbishments that have been slowed by supply chain issues and vendor delays, the “Rusty Tusty” iw staying in the Seward JAG shipyard an additional 15 days.
The M/V Kennicott will cover the majority of sailings on which passengers have reservations. Alaska Marine Highway System reservation staff is reaching out to all ticketed passengers to reschedule their voyages.
Work being done on the Tustemena includes upgrades and replacements to passenger and vehicle elevators, steelwork, superstructure coating, bridge deck upgrades, and interior engineering systems upgrades. The $9.4 million refurbishment was awarded to the Seward shipyard on Dec. 28, 2021.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities expected the Tusty to enter the shipyard earlier, but shifted the schedule back after an initial unsuccessful construction bid opening. The shift means the ferry will add 20 days of service in late November and early December.
The Tustumena was built in 1964 and is one of two certified ocean-class ferries in the AMHS system. It is the only vessel capable of serving all 13 ports of call between Homer and Unalaska. The 58-year-old ship has become more expensive to maintain and operate and will be replaced with a new vessel in about six years.
Alaska owns and operates 10 ferries that serve communities from Ketchikan to the Aleutian chain.