Southeast Ferry Service Stalled by Engine Overhaul

Sitka and Juneau will lose a week of fast ferry sailings this month. The Chenega will return to Southeast service May 14th, a week later than scheduled.

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The vessel has been undergoing an overhaul, which includes replacing its engines. Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the Chenega turned out to have corrosion in its starboard hull. It’s being patched up for the season at the Ketchikan Shipyard, with permanent repairs planned for later this year.

“This temporary fix will be fine and it’ll be safe enough and it will be certified by the Coast Guard to run passenger service. And that way, we can get the vessel out sooner than if we had to do a major repair to this area where there is a little bit of corrosion found.”

The ferry usually sails in Prince William Sound. But it’s scheduled to fill in this month for the Fairweather, its sister ship, which is having an engine replaced.

The Chenega will miss four Juneau-to-Sitka roundtrips May 7th-10th. Its first sailing on that route, May 14th, includes a stop in Angoon. Its first Juneau-to-Petersburg roundtrip is scheduled for May 15th.

Woodrow says reservations staffers are contacting affected passengers.

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Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau
Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.