By Iris Samuels
Anchorage Daily News 

State ferry system victim of aging vessels, lack of funding


April 10, 2024

Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

Sparks fly as Gabriel Pacheco of JAG Alaska Shipyard in Seward works on the car deck of the state ferry Tustumena.

The state ferry Tustumena is preparing for its 60th birthday party this summer.

Over the years, the vessel has become a familiar and important part of life in communities between Homer and Dutch Harbor. But after years in rough waters, the cost of keeping the Tustumena running is ballooning.

"This ship is a floating museum piece," said John Mayer, who has captained the ship for years.

The Tustumena exemplifies the storms that the Alaska Marine Highway System has weathered.

In March, Seward shipyard workers and ferry crew members worked - as they do every year - to keep the ferry seaworthy, des...

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