This week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly went through the quarterly process of approving the next three months of funding for storage and maintenance of the MV Susitna, which currently amounts to about $18,000 per month.
The Susitna was meant to be used as a ferry between the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage across Knik Arm. But that project never came to fruition and the borough has been trying to sell it. The borough has an interested buyer located outside the United States. Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey says that means going to the federal government, who built the vessel, for permission.
Because this is a U.S. Navy prototype, primarily designed for battle missions, that it was potentially thought could be used as a ferry, we have to go through these extra hoops,” Moosey said. “A second thing is, as far as export license, when you sell outside of [the] Continental United States, you need permission to do that.”
The Borough received $12 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration. Since the boat was never put into service as a ferry, the federal government is asking for that money back. John Moosey, Borough Attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos, and Borough Assembly Member Steve Colligan recently went to Washington D.C. to speak face-to-face with the FTA.
“I really don’t think they are looking for a pound of flesh, or to financially hurt us, but they have some, I think, responsibilities and obligations. So, trying to ferret through not hurting the Mat-Su Borough financially versus ‘Hey, we are also accountable for these grants,’ is really pretty much, I think, what’s going on here.”
John Moosey says the borough hopes to hear back soon on whether or not it has permission to sell the M/V Susitna to a foreign entity.