State Tustumena ferry delayed to July

The state Tustumena ferry will be out of service for longer than anticipated.

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Meadow Bailey, a Public Information Officer with the Department of Transportation, said the Tustumena had docked for an overhaul with an original return-to-service date of May 27.

“There was some discovery during its annual overhaul that there was additional extensive steel waste found in the engine room, so that repair will take about two months longer to complete,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the new return to service date is July 18, and they’re letting passengers know and rescheduling with that new date in mind. The delay affects Southwest Alaska and communities along the Aleutian chain. That includes Kodiak.

Bailey emphasizes the Tusty’s age. It was built in 1963 and is now 53 years old.

“We have been talking about the need for a replacement vessel for some time, and we’ve been talking about that,” Bailey said. “The replacement vessel is designed, but there currently is funding quite yet.”

Bailey said that’ll be determined in the Fiscal Year 2018 capital budget.

As for the current model, the Tustumena is making its long stop at the Vigor Industrial shipyard in Ketchikan.