(JUNEAU, Alaska) –M/V Columbia will sail again in February, serving Southeast Alaska and Bellingham routes due to the need for further upgrades to the Matanuska.
The Matanuska entered her overhaul in November 2022, where crews uncovered additional wasted steel and hazardous materials, both of which require additional time for removal and repair in the shipyard. Due to the extra time and expense, Alaska Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) are considering pursuing an extended overhaul to address the steel and abatement issues in addition to egress issues in the Matanuska’s original design, including revising dead-end corridors, and upgrading the ship’s fire and smoke detection systems. Due to the extent of work required, and the need to further assess and estimate vessel repair and rehabilitation costs over the coming months, the Matanuska will be used as a hotel ship for AMHS staff while this important work is conducted.
“I want to thank the Matanuska vessel crew, AMHS engineering department, and our contractor, Vigor Alaska, for working through these challenges,” said Ryan Anderson, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. “I’m pleased to say that many of the Matanuska’s crewmembers will be serving on the Columbia when she gets underway.”
Returning the Columbia to service has been a goal of AMHS and DOT&PF, and significant work has been completed on the ship over the past few years. The vessel was taken out of service in 2019 as a cost control measure.
The Columbia is scheduled for overhaul in January and will go through US Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping inspections before returning to service.
“I am pleased that we will have the Columbia up and ready to serve the people of Southeast Alaska,” said Katherine Keith, Deputy Commissioner with the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. “This underscores the continued need to build redundancy into the system—we need vessels that can take over routes if one of our ships requires an extended repair, like we had in this case.”
The Columbia can serve most ports currently served by the Matanuska. The Department will be looking for alternative service for the remaining communities. Prince Rupert will be served by the Kennicott.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 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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