The State of Alaska is well on its way to building two new Alaska Class Ferries. The keels were laid at the Vigor Shipyard in Ketchikan on December 13, 2014. The ferries are scheduled for delivery in the spring and fall of 2019. The Alaska Class Ferry will serve Juneau, Haines, and Skagway and operate as a day boat, with the second one based in Prince William Sound. The vessels will be 280 feet long and carry 300 passengers and 53 vehicles.
Project Updates (+)
Project Updates (-)
Alaska Legislature Ratifies Names Selected for New Ferry Boats
Click here to review the ratification by Legislature to name the new ferries.
Project Update: April 2017
Construction has progressed into its 28th month with fifteen modules assembled and in place as well as four more under construction for the MV Tazlina. That leaves only two more modules left to be built for the first ship. Click on the image to begin a slideshow of the latest project pictures. The front half of the vessel was moved out of the building on November 20th 2016 and other recent accomplishments include:
- Engine room construction and placement
- Further assembly of the modules making up the aft section
- The aft section includes crew & passenger areas, engine room and car deck
- Mast installed onto the house top
Governor Walker's Announcement of the Name the Ferry Contest Winners
Click here to see the archived press release.
Project Update: 12-21-16
Construction is progressing with fifteen modules assembled and four under construction for the first ship. Click on the image to begin a slideshow of the latest project pictures. There are currently 103 people assigned to the project, excluding management personnel, which is an increase of 9 from the 94 people that were assigned in October 2016. This has resulted in a high level of achievement over the course of the last several months. The front half of the vessel was moved out of the building on November 20th 2016 and other recent accomplishments include:
- Set Pilot House and Bridge Deck arrangement on assembly
- Set major equipment in spaces of forward half
- Made the ship weather tight for moving out of the building
- Engine room moved to the assembly hall
- Small crews and outfitting crew are working on close-out of spaces
- Pipe and steel are fabricating the aft section
Project Update: 07-29-16
Construction continues into the nineteenth month of the project with nine modules assembled and three under construction. Delivery of the vessel is due on October 15th, 2018. The AMHS construction team continues to address day to day detailed design issues and attend production planning meetings to keep the project moving forward. Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) has assisted with reviewing jacket water calculation, electrical questions, pilothouse alarm and UPS requirements, updated the mooring arrangement drawing and verified freeing port requirements.
Glosten continues to release a new version of the 3D model nominally every week. The pilothouse module outfitting was completed the last week in July. Major materials received on site in July include steel for hull structures, HVAC ducting, piping material, electrical panels, motor starters and anchor windlass controllers.
Since the last update, modules #9, #10, #11 have all been completed and placed on the vessel. Modules #13, #14 (the future engine room), and #18 are currently in progress, #5 and #23 have been built but are awaiting later placement. Click on the image above to begin a slideshow of the latest pictures of the project.
Project Update: 02-01-16
Construction continues into its sixteenth month with crews from Vigor Alaska's shipyard in Ketchikan and the AMHS Project Team. Seven modules have been built, with four modules in place and the next two well underway. Other details have also been progressing, such as detail to the interior rendering of the vessels. The Project Team is utilizing computer based technology to coordinate the construction, movement and inventory demands of the project to avoid confusion and delays. The Team achieves this by producing a regularly updated computer animation showing the construction and movement of each module and the attachment of modules to the vessel. The use of technology is assisting to minimize potential problems while increasing efficiencies and coordination in the yard.
Each module is being built as a complete unit, with pipes, electric cable raceways, and other essential systems already installed. These are complete prior to the module being rotated upright, lifted into place and attached to the ship. Pipes, and raceways in previously attached sections must mate up exactly with pipes and raceways in future sections.
When moving the modules into place, they connect pad eyes with hand-operated winches. Pad eyes are a flat metal plate with a ring built in as one complete piece. The pad eyes are welded to the hull, giving the cranes and winches something secure to hold on to. Once lifted in place by cranes, winches are used to slowly tighten each piece together, until the whole section is precisely in place. The pad eyes are then removed and the attach point ground smooth.
Modules #2, #4, #5 & #23 are substantially complete. Work continues on module #1 which is waiting for the bow thruster tunnel ends to be faired into the hull. Module #3 was placed on the vessel during the month of January. Modules #7 and #8 have begun construction. Click on the image above to begin a slideshow of pictures depicting the current progress.
Project Update: 11-01-15
General construction progress has been inspected at Vigor Alaska's shipyard in Ketchikan, AK on October 26th by the AMHS Project team and Elliott Bay Design Group. Progress to date is looking good. The Day Boats are being constructed in modules that will be fit together from the hull upward, moving from bow to stern. Click on the image to the left to start a slideshow depicting the current progress.
Multiple modules are currently under construction. Plating and parts for module #7 have arrived and construction of this module will begin as work on the other modules continues. Steel construction of module #4 was recently completed and it has been lifted, rotated and placed on top of the vehicle deck of Module #2. Much of the shell plating has now also been completed on Module #1.
The bow thruster tunnel extension plates were rolled at Seattle Boiler Works, and have arrived. Workers are now welding the cylinders together, and performing final grinding. A wide variety of material is on site which will be used for outfitting the ship during the construction of the modules. Completion of the parts that comprise Modules #5 and 23 are now complete for the Day Boats and are stored outside the building hall.
Design Concepts (+)
Design Concepts (-)
- Interior Rendering Drawings: 02-04-16 | Final interior renderings of the ACF's.
- Module Drawing and Erection Sequence: 10-20-15 | Module drawing and erection sequence of the ACF's.
- Profile and Arrangement Drawings: 09-29-14 | Version of drawings published on September 29th, 2014.
- Profile and Arrangement Drawings: 01-02-14 | Version of drawings published on January 2nd, 2014.
- Profile and Arrangement Drawings: 11-14-13 | Version of drawings published on November 14th, 2013.
- Design Study Report: 07-10-13 | Design Study Report for the ACF's.
- Draft Design Concept Report: 02-25-13 | Draft Design Concept Report for the ACF's.
- Change in Direction White Paper: 12-20-12 | Project Overview and Change in Direction (white paper).
- Profile and Arrangement Drawings: 10-29-09 | Version of drawings published on October 29th, 2009.
- Concept Profile and Arrangement Drawings: 06-09-09 | Original version of drawings published June 9th, 2009.
Submit A Comment (+)
Submit A Comment (-)
The Alaska DOT&PF will accept public comments at any time throughout the Alaska Class Ferry project. To submit your own comment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Department held two public comment periods relating to the Alaska Class Ferry Day Boats. The first comment period, concerning the Draft Design Concept Report, ran March 1 - 29, 2013 and the second comment period, regarding the Preliminary Design Study Report, ran July 15 - August 30, 2013. In addition, public meetings to present the Draft Design Concept Designs were held in Juneau, Skagway and Haines. These time frames were established so that public comments could be used in the development of the Alaska Class Ferry Day Boats. Please submit any future comments to the email address above.
Frequently Asked Questions (+)
Frequently Asked Questions (-)
Will the car deck be open?
No, AMHS has decided to fully enclose the car deck. Previous draft concept designs of the Day Boat ACF included a car deck with a partially open aft section. After further design review and budget analysis, AMHS has concluded that it would be operationally beneficial to construct both vessels with a fully enclosed car deck. This addition is not estimated to significantly increase the cost to construct each vessel.
What will happen to the schedule when the crew works longer than 12 hours due to inclement weather?
The operating schedule will not be affected. The 12-hour operating schedule is set so that crewmembers of passenger ferries meet work/rest requirements. The regulations dictate that a typical sailing schedule can be completed in 12 hours, that crewmembers must have 70 hours of rest within a 7 day period, and that the crew cannot be scheduled to work more than 12 hours in a 24 hour work day. AMHS will schedule the operation of both vessels with more than ample rest time built into the crew work schedules. Longer operating days due to weather delay, mechanical problems or heavy vehicle loads may occur and will be permitted so long as the crew meets its 70 hours of required rest.
Without crew quarters where will the crew live and how will the crew meet the work/rest requirements when the operating day goes over 12 hours?
When a crewmember has completed his or her shift for the day the person will return home just as crewmembers who work aboard the fast ferry Fairweather currently do in Juneau. There may be times when one of the vessels is scheduled so that it does not return to its home port in the same day. When this is the case, the crew will overnight on shore at a hotel - similar to how commercial airlines accommodate flight crews.
Can these boats be used anywhere else in the system, other than Lynn Canal?
Yes. These ferries can provide service between any two ports distanced less than 12 operating hours apart. When one of the Day Boat ACFs is scheduled to sail between two ports where it cannot return to its home port within 12 hours, the vessel will overnight at the destination port. The crew will overnight at a hotel and the vessel will return to its home port the next day, thus completing the roundtrip sailing. However, most sailings will be scheduled so that the vessel returns to its homeport the same day and within 12 hours.
What kind of food will there be available onboard the ferries?
The department is anticipating that the ferries will offer food and beverage options similar to what is available onboard the fast ferries. This is a food court-type atmosphere with select cold and hot food options available during the majority of the voyage. Cold beverages will also be available through vending machines. In addition, hot water and a microwave will be available for passengers who opt to bring their own food and wish to heat/cook their food onboard the ferry.
What kind of restrictions will there be on unaccompanied vehicles and freight vans?
Unaccompanied vehicles and non-motorized container vans greatly affect the time in which a vessel can load/unload in port, which is an important factor for day boat operations. The Department anticipates that it will limit unaccompanied vehicles and freight (container vans) in one of two ways. First, the shipping company may elect to use a "swing" tractor to load, accompany and unload the van (or a connected train of vans) at the destination. Second, the shipping company may elect to schedule more freight on the mainline vessels that will continue to run Lynn Canal. After operational patterns are established, it is likely that on low volume days unaccompanied vehicles and some non-motorized vehicles can be accommodated.
Was this the same style of vessel that sank in Europe due to the bow leaking?
No. One of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th Century was the sinking of the M/V Estonia in 1994 in the Baltic Sea. The Estonia had a "knight's hood" or visor bow door, similar to the now retired AMHS ferry M/V E.L. Bartlett. Since the Estonia incident, numerous international regulations, standards and recommendations were made to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring. From a construction standpoint, the Day Boat ACF's will have watertight side-stowing bow doors with a secondary watertight internal door that will also function as the vehicle ramp. This feature is internationally recognized and is a frequently used operating characteristic aboard roll-on roll-off, bow-loading passenger ferries.
Will these vessels be capable of handling the traffic demands of Northern Lynn Canal?
The Day Boat ACF design concept vessel is capable of carrying 53 Alaska Standard Vehicles (20ft in length) and 300 persons. A vessel of this capacity will fulfill 95 percent of the traffic requirements in Lynn Canal. AMHS will schedule additional vessel support for times when the Day Boat ACF will not meet the anticipated traffic demand, which is usually during highly publicized community events such as the Klondike Road Relay and Southeast Alaska State Fair.
How are these ferries designed to properly handle the rough waters of Northern Lynn Canal?
The Day Boat Alaska Class Ferry is being designed to be safe in all regional environmental conditions and to exceed 99 percent sailing frequency for all identified routes. Seakeeping analysis of the hull design has estimated the passenger comfort aboard a Day Boat ACF to be much greater than that of the M/V LeConte and more similar to the comfort level of the M/V Taku. This level of passenger comfort is expected to be achieved by building a vessel that is 45 feet longer than the LeConte with centrally located passenger accommodations, and incorporates a hull and bow that is designed to minimize spray generation and forebody slamming. The Department will "tank test" a to-scale model version of the Day Boat ACF design to further analyze the seakeeping ability and to make design modifications to further improve the passenger comfort level during inclement weather. However, the Department also recognizes that extreme weather events do occur and, as with all AMHS vessels, the Day boat ACF must operate under the limits defined as safe for both passengers and vessel.
Will a crew the size of 9 be able to safely look after 300 passengers in the event of an onboard emergency?
The U.S. Coast Guard sets crew size requirements for commercial passenger vessels. While the current design has not been submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard for review and approval, based on the design, operations, and passenger capacity the department believes a crew size of 9 will meet the USCG requirements to safely oversee 300 passengers in the event of an emergency.
What kind of space is planned for students to do homework and business travelers to work at a table with their laptop, etc.?
Through numerous public comments it was conveyed that a dedicated space with tables and extra power outlets separated from other common areas was strongly desired. The design team has responded to this request by redesigning the theater space into a study lounge that students and business travelers may find more desirable for homework and business related activities.
Will there be accommodations for travelers with medical conditions?
Yes. A first aid room is included in the vessel design. This space may be used by passengers with prior medical needs or those who need immediate medical attention while traveling aboard the ferry. Additionally, the department intends to install reclining lounge chairs in the designated quiet observation lounge to improve comfort for passengers wishing to find rest during the sailing.
Will there be a designated area for families with small children, such as a play area?
Yes. The Day Boat ACF design includes a family observation lounge with a dedicated children's play area.
What kind of amenities will these vessels have in comparison to the existing fleet?
The Day Boat Alaska Class Ferry will be similar to AMHS mainline vessels in that it will have multiple decks, an observation lounge, a designated quiet area, a designated area for food and beverages, and an aft solarium. The food service will be more similar to what is offered onboard the FVF Chenega and FVF Fairweather. The Day Boat ACF will not have staterooms for passengers or crew. AMHS is currently reviewing the possibility of Wi-Fi aboard all vessels.
Why did the Alaska Class Ferry design suddenly change?
In fall 2012 the conceptual design for the former Alaska Class Ferry had reached a point where accurate cost estimates could be provided by both the naval architect and Alaska Ship and Drydock. These estimates showed the total project cost at $150 to $167 million — 25 to 39 percent higher than the $120 million appropriated.
The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities consulted with the Governor and received direction to reevaluate the direction the project had taken. The vessel design and purpose were reviewed and the department determined that going back to the original concept was the best course of action for service to the public and in order to keep the project within budget. Governor Parnell announced and directed DOT&PF in December 2012 to revert to a stern/bow RORO concept design which will cost less to build and operate, and better serve Alaskans.
Additional details are provided in the ACF Change in Direction White Paper.
Where will the new Day Boat Alaska Class Ferry operate?
The first priority of the Day Boat Alaska Class Ferry is the same as the former ACF concept, which is to functionally replace the M/V Malaspina summer service in Lynn Canal, serving the communities of Juneau, Haines and Skagway. Additional routes and possible schedules have been identified as providing service to other Alaska communities and may be found in Appendix C of the Draft Design Concept Report.
Why is the operation schedule limited to 12 hours?
The 12-hour "day boat" criterion is important because operations longer than this timeframe would require additional 24/7 crewing along with the inclusion of crew quarters and eating facilities which would greatly increase operating and capital costs. Day boat vessels offer the most efficient service but are limited in that they can only serve communities distanced less than 12 hours apart from the time the crew begins in the morning and ends their shift each night. Lynn Canal has traditionally been served by mainline ferries, which operate as 24-hour vessels with a large crew size and substantial operating costs. The Day Boat ACFs are being designed and scheduled to fulfill the traffic requirements of Lynn Canal and operate efficiently within the 12-hour time limitation.
Is it possible to add additional crew members so that the Day Boat ACF could operate a longer schedule, for example 14-16 hours?
No. According to U.S. Coast Guard rest requirements additional crew may not be added to provide relief without sufficient crew quarters available for adequate rest. Exceeding the 12-hour criteria would require the Day Boat ACF to add full crew quarters with requisite accommodations. The addition of crew quarters increases the capital and operating costs of a vessel dramatically. The department has determined the best option for controlling both construction and operating costs is to retain the "day boat" design and function.
Why build two identical ferries if one is only going to run between Haines and Skagway?
With two identical ferries, the ferries can be interchanged to balance wear and maintenance; this interchange can be used to expedite turnaround on selected days. Also, one ferry could be deployed to other Southeast Alaska communities when the M/V LeConte is not running due to required annual maintenance or breakdowns. The ACF's will also serve as a backup vessel to one another during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance days. This will allow AMHS to continue to provide a consistent level of service with the least amount of impact to the system as a whole. Additionally, by constructing two identical vessels, it is expected that the second Day Boat ACF will cost approximately 10 percent less to construct.
Will operation of the Day Boat ACF require ferry terminal modification and/or additions?
Preliminary planning for terminal operations have vehicles stern loading the Day Boat ACF in both Skagway and Juneau with no major terminal modifications required at either port. To maximize loading/unloading efficiency, vehicles will need to then exit each vessel through the bow in Haines and, if necessary, transfer to the other vessel via the bow in order to continue their travel to Juneau or Skagway. The addition of a twin bow berth will be required at the Haines Ferry Terminal to successfully unload, load and transfer vehicles in the least amount of time.
A large terminal improvement project at Haines is currently in the planning stages. This project will consider the implementation of new twin bow mooring and loading berths, in conjunction with improving the existing side load berth. It was previously estimated that terminal improvements in Haines to accommodate the former 350ft ACF concept would cost around $18 million. Preliminary estimates for the twin bow berths are approximately $20-22 million. DOT&PF; intends to use federal funding for the terminal improvements.
How is it possible to build two 280 foot ferries for less than the cost of one 350 foot ferry?
The elimination of the bow door in the former ACF concept required that the vessel be widened in order to support vehicles and cargo vans that require a large turning radius to enter/exit through the forward side doors. In order to functionally support a wider vessel, the ferry then had to be lengthened for speed, seakeeping, and fuel savings. After the former ACF concept grew to 350 feet, additional accommodations for passengers and crew were also added. These additions in combination exponentially increased the construction cost for the hull structure, the crew and passenger accommodations, and the superstructure required to support the additional accommodations.
In comparison, the 280 foot Day Boat ACF "roadmap" vessel concept realizes significant cost savings through the elimination of several superstructure features, such as overnight crew accommodations and passenger amenities that are not necessary for day boat operations. By eliminating these features and reinserting the bow door to the ACF design, the vessel no longer required its large width or accompanying length. The hull structure and superstructure required to meet the ACF mission criteria can now be relatively narrower and shorter and, as a result, will cost substantially less to construct. Using current parametric vessel cost estimates, the Day Boat ACF roadmap concept can be constructed for about one-third of the construction costs estimated for the former 350 foot concept. A breakdown of these costs may be found in Appendix E of the Draft Design Concept Report.
What is the purpose of the bow door and how will this vessel design be safe while operating in the severe weather of Alaska's waterways?
The inclusion of the bow door in the Day Boat ACF design will aid in successfully meeting the 12-hour criteria necessary for "day boat" operations. With the addition of a stern door, vehicles will be able to drive straight on and straight off the vessel. Currently, vehicles must make a 90-degree turn when driving on or off the majority of AMHS ferries, and many large vehicles and freight vans must back on to the vessel. Vehicles must also be loaded based on their departure port. This process is slow and significantly adds to the time that AMHS ferries spend in port. The Department estimates that vehicles will be able to load and unload the Day Boat ACF up to five times faster and, in turn, decrease the time spent in each port while maximizing the time the vessel can spend traveling between destinations.
Worldwide, approximately one-third of all roll-on roll-off passenger ferries operate with both bow and stern doors. International regulations require that bow access is designed with the highest of integrity. This means that along with the bow door(s) additional inner doors are made watertight to prevent water access should the bow door ever fail - additional watertight doors prevent a catastrophic event from occurring. The Department has identified three commonly deployed bow door designs that meet the stringent safety requirements for operating in Alaska waters. The safety and operational features of these designs will be further evaluated throughout the Day Boat ACF design process.
Why isn't the department designing a vessel that will fit all AMHS terminals?
Designing a vessel to fit all AMHS terminals even if the vessel is not planned to service those locations unnecessarily increases construction and operating costs. The Day Boat Alaska Class ferry is being designed to successfully operate the first priority routes identified in the Draft Design Concept Report. The report also identifies alternative routes and destinations that could be served by a Day Boat ACF. In order to serve the alternative destinations, the Day Boat ACF will require mooring and loading from the side of the vessel. This will be made possible with the addition of an aft side door or multiple side door combinations, which will also be used for mooring and loading operations at the Skagway terminal. Many of the ports of call where the Day Boat ACF does not fit the terminal are locations that would be best served by an AMHS vessel designed for a mission different than that of a day boat, such as a mainliner class ferry (Taku Class, etc.).
Operating two ferries instead of one sounds like an added expense to the overall operating budget for AMHS, how does this compare to the operating costs of the previous Alaska Class Ferry design?
Most AMHS vessels have two crews that each work two weeks on, then two weeks off (A crew and B crew). The 350 foot ACF was estimated to have a crew size of 28 members, which would total 56 full time positions when combined. The Day Boat ACF is estimated to require a crew of 9; multiplied by two crews and two ships, this results in 36 positions combined. An additional 8 positions would also be required for night crews in Juneau and night watch persons in Haines, thus totaling 44 crewmembers in all for the Day Boat ACF.
Fuel and labor contribute to approximately 90 percent of AMHS vessel operating costs. The Day Boat ACFs are anticipated to require 3,000 horsepower engines rather than the 5,000 horsepower engines planned for the 350' ACF, and will collectively only run one Haines-Skagway round trip more. While fuel savings can be expected when operating the Day Boat ACFs, the exact saving are not known at this stage in the design process. Using the crew sizes mentioned above, labor costs are expected to be approximately 21 percent less. As a further cost savings measure, the Department will explore the possibility of operating one Day Boat ACF during the lowest traffic months; an option that was not possible with one 350 foot ACF.