Engine Problems Fuel Lawsuit

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

State officials are trying mediation to settle an ongoing dispute over fast ferry engines.

The Department of Law filed a lawsuit in March over continuing problems with equipment powering the ferries Fairweather and Chenega. The suit named Derecktor, the east Coast shipyard that built the vessels, as well as the German company that made the engines.

The parties were already discussing solutions when the lawsuit was filed. Marine Highway General Manager John Falvey says talks are ongoing.

The Fairweather and Chenega are 235-foot aluminum-hulled catamarans. The Juneau-based Fairweather sails to Sitka, Petersburg, Haines and Skagway. The Cordova-based Chenega sails to Valdez and Whittier. Both carry up to 35 vehicles and 250 passengers.

Falvey says one solution would be to replace the engines. Only eight were made, four each for the two ferries. But he says another widely-used engine could probably substitute.

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