Tustumena ferry sailings cancelled in May due to repairs

The Alaska Dept. of Transportation announced Monday that May sailings of the ferry Tustumena are canceled due to unexpected repair work.

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The MV Tustumena was scheduled to leave Dutch Harbor for Homer on May 21. Now that trip will happen at least two weeks later, says the AK DOT. ( Photo couretsy of Nancy Heise)
The MV Tustumena was scheduled to leave Dutch Harbor for Homer on May 21. Now that trip will happen at least two weeks later, says the AK DOT. ( Photo couretsy of Nancy Heise)

The ferry’s first 2016 trip servicing the Aleutian chain will now depart about two weeks late.

Tustumena sailings from May 15th through the 26th are cancelled; the ferry is expected to return to service for the season on Friday, May 27th.

DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the cancellations were unfortunate.

“This is the second year in the row that we’ve had to cancel the first chain run due to what’s called discovery work during the vessel’s annual overhaul.”

Woodrow said every time the department sends the vessel to the shipyard for an annual inspection or capitol improvement project, they asked the shipyard to do a comprehensive tune-up.

“Unfortunately this time when they were doing discovery work, they found some steel in the car deck area that needs to be repaired and the extent of the repairs are going to take longer than was scheduled for the vessel’s overhaul.”

He said there’s no chance of the repairs being completed earlier.

“They do schedule space for those discovery repairs, the extent of these repairs are going to take much longer unfortunately that that was scheduled. And there’s no way the vessel can be certified by the Coast Guard for safety for the passengers before these repairs are made.”

Alaska Marine Highway System representatives will contact ticket holders for the canceled sailings this week to either arrange itinerary changes or refunds. Woodrow said passengers who have made connecting travel arrangements are out of luck.

“It doesn’t compensate passengers for any other reservations made, or penalties they may incur for their other means of travel.”

The revised sailing schedules and other information will be posted on the AMHS website. The first ferry to Dutch Harbor isn’t expected until the beginning of June.