(JUNEAU, Alaska) – After thorough inspections of the 45-year-old M/V LeConte and the 44-year-old M/V Aurora, the Alaska Marine Highway System is moving forward with repairs for the LeConte.
Engineers inspecting the ships determined that both will require extensive steel replacement. The Aurora will require 20% more steel to be replaced and locations are more challenging because of associated electric, plumbing, and hydraulic lines. Repair work on the Aurora will be more expensive and will take longer.
Estimates for the LeConte repairs are $5.2 million total. Last month, $1.2 million was spent on the ship’s annual overhaul, leaving $4 million in future repairs. The LeConte repair work that remains includes replacement of steel on the ship’s hull. The LeConte’s engines have been rebuilt, and the Aurora will need replacement engines in the future.
Both ships were pulled out of service earlier this month for annual overhauls. It was determined that significantly more repair work was required than originally budgeted and AMHS does not have funds to repair both vessels. Last session, $20 million was appropriated to the Marine Highway Fund, AMHS has legislative authority to spend $13.5 million of this amount. The $13.5 million will be used to pay for annual overhauls for each of the AMHS vessels that are in service. The M/V Fairweather, M/V Chenega, M/V Aurora, and M/V Malaspina are in long-term layup and will not receive annual overhauls.
As soon as it was known that the LeConte and Aurora would both be pulled out of service, AMHS staff began working on alternative plans. Last week, the M/V Tazlina was brought out of layup status and will provide service to parts of the northern Panhandle starting today. AMHS plans for the LeConte to return to service May 15 after the steel repairs are completed.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 776 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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