Engine overhaul stalls ferry sale

Mat Su’s ferry, Susitna is in Seattle , awaiting repairs, but so far, the Borough Assembly is balking about paying for four engine overhauls. This week’s Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly meeting made little progress on finding a final resolution for the ailing ship.
It is a little like peeling an onion.. one layer only reveals another layer. And at Tuesday night’s Mat Su Borough Assembly meeting, Assembly members got new information about how those repairs need to proceed. Early in February, the Assembly got word that all four engines on the Susitna need to be overhauled. In a series of special meetings, the Assembly agreed to have the ship towed to Seattle with a Foss tug, there to await a final decision on the repairs. Sale of the vessel to the Phillipine Red Cross is contingent on the ship being operable by March 31, so the Assembly directed Borough manager John Moosey to seek a 3 month extension of the time allowed to make the repairs. The ferry is in Seattle now, but Tuesday night, Moosey did not have a written agreement in hand. But Lewis Madden, who is the Borough’s point man on brokering the ferry sale to the Phillipines, said in an email, that the buyers have approved the extension.

” And I am working with the Philipine Red Cross on a volunteer basis as their consumer rep for the acquisition and the operations of the MV Susitna.”

Speaking from California Wednesday, Lewis Madden confirmed the extension agreement.

“I’ve been informed by both the chairman of the Red Cross, who is head of it, Richard Gordon, and by the Secretary General, who is equivalent to the chief operating officer of the Philipine Red Cross that the extension was approved on Monday night their time, that would be Sunday night our time, in a resolution by the Red Cross board of governors. And the paperwork is being prepared. It takes a little while as you know to get agendas typed up and approved, and all the rest of that.. In fact I’ll be talking to Secretary General [Gwen] Pang tonight, to see what the progress is on that, she thinks it should be done soon, and they will be forwarding the signed letter approving the ninety day extension or agreeing to the ninety day extension to the Borough as soon as possible.”
However, the Assembly wants to see it in writing before it will approve spending an additional $2 million dollars on the ship, in addition to the $1.1 million already allocated to repairs.

Madden led the design team for the concept of the ship, which was a US Navy prototype. He later served as a customer representative for the Borough during the construction of the ship. He says he inspected the ship during construction and reported back to the Borough .

The Assembly delayed a vote on the extra repair money until a mid- March meeting. But the panel did give manager Moosey the option of spending $15,000 dollars on preliminary engine dismantling to begin this week.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen