The Alaska Marine Highway ferry Tustumena docked at Homer on Tuesday, June 26, to rest the crew for several days. A critical crew shortage required the vessel to stay in port for safety reasons. Sailings between Homer and Kodiak have been cancelled until Saturday, July 30.
The ship has been operating with a small but dedicated group of sailors in southwest Alaska since July 16. Due to insufficient numbers of replacement staff, the ship has not been able to backfill essential positions that are vacant due to illness or other qualifying needs. Staffing shortages have been a concern nationally and throughout the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Since early 2022, The Department of Transportation has embarked on an aggressive hiring campaign to recruit workers. The department is employing head hunters, participating in job fairs across Alaska and Washington, and offering $5,000 signing bonuses to attract new crew members.
People interested in working for the Alaska Marine Highway are encouraged to check the AMHS hiring page at this link.
Earlier this year, the Tustemena was delayed returning to service after being in the Seward shipyard for major upgrades and repairs; the delay was due to supply chain issues leading to the inability to get requires items.