Draft summer ferry schedule similar to past year for Wrangell

 

January 18, 2023 | View PDF



The Alaska Marine Highway System has released its draft summer schedule for coastal communities, proposing a similar level of service to Wrangell as last year.

The largest vessel in the fleet, the Columbia, coming out of a three-year tie-up, is scheduled to make weekly voyages between Bellingham, Washington, and Southeast Alaska, stopping in Wrangell northbound on Sundays and southbound on Wednesdays. It is replacing the Matanuska, which is out of service indefinitely for extended repairs.

Wrangell would see a second ferry the second week of each month under the draft summer schedule, as the Kennicott would stop here Friday on its monthly northbound run out of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, coming back through Wrangell on its southbound voyage on Sunday. The Kennicott would spend much of its time running across the Gulf of Alaska, including stops in Yakutat, Whittier and Kodiak.

The summer schedule runs May through September. “The operating plan has been designed to meet community service needs while staying within available funding levels,” the ferry system acting general manager said in announcing the draft plan.

The system will open to reservations after the state adopts a final schedule for the summer, likely in February.

In addition to the Columbia’s weekly sailings between Bellingham and Southeast, the Kennicott would get to Bellingham once a month to help move passengers and vehicles on the popular run.

The LeConte would serve the Northern Panhandle from Juneau to Haines and Skagway, plus less frequent service to Gustavus, Angoon, Tenakee, Hoonah and Kake.

The Aurora would serve Prince William Sound, and the Tustumena would sail the Southwest route with one Aleutian chain trip per month.

The Hubbard would join the LeConte in Lynn Canal if the ferry system can find enough crew to staff the ship, according to last week’s announcement. A shortage of licensed crew has been a major problem for the state the past couple of years due to layoffs, retirements, resignations and an inability to attract new hires.

The $60 million Hubbard, just a few years old, has never been put into service.

Its sister ship, the Tazlina, which has seen very limited service, will remain in layup under the summer schedule.

The Alaska Marine Highway System released the draft schedule last Friday, giving the public 13 days to submit comments, which are due Jan. 26 and can be emailed to RESTORE@PublicInput.com.

A public hearing is planned for 10 a.m. Jan. 27 via Zoom for Southeast residents to voice their opinions: https://bit.ly/3ZECFa7; meeting ID 824 5856 2885; passcode: Eb8iky.

 

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