For the fourth time this summer, the M/V Tustumena’s return to service has been pushed back. The Alaska Department of Transportation is now saying that the ferry won’t be ready to sail until the end of August.
In an inspection last week, the Coast Guard found deficiencies with some of the welding work on the ship’s hull. DOT spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow says the ferry can’t sail until the issues are fixed.
“The welds definitely need to be watertight, they’re part of the chambers that help the ship float,” Woodrow says. “So it’s important that these welds are done correctly and that we don’t have to go back and relook at them often when the ship is actually is service.”
The work and the inspection will probably keep the ferry in drydock for an additional two weeks. That extra time will be expensive — for the shipyard. Starting on Friday, the state will fine Seward Ship’s Drydock $20,000 a day until the repairs are completed.
After that, the ship will still need to pass at-sea trials before it can take passengers aboard.
Six hundred passengers were scheduled to sail on the Tustumena between now and the end of August. They’ll have the option to rebook for a later date, or cancel without penalty.
The Tustumena has been in drydock since November. The Kennicott picked up some of its scheduled runs in April and May, but there’s been no ferry service to the Aleutians since then.
KMXT’s Jay Barrett contributed reporting for this story.