(KETCHIKAN, Alaska) – History was made Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Ketchikan Shipyard with the Day Boat Alaska Class Ferry Laying of the Keels Ceremony. In keeping with maritime tradition, the two vessels were initialed by the vessel’s sponsors, First Lady Donna Walker and Antoinette Mary Mallott.
“What an honor it is to have this as one of my first official duties,” First Lady Walker said. “I understand I will be invited back in a few years to christen the new vessel. This is just an incredible honor.”
In his address before a crowd of nearly 200, Governor Bill Walker praised the people of Ketchikan for their vision, passion and hard work.
“I’ve met a lot of visionaries and bright people here in Ketchikan,” Governor Walker said. “Someone took a bold step forward in this facility. It took vision, but it also took passion and guts. The price of oil doesn’t determine who we are. The price of oil cannot change the spirit of Alaska. The spirit of Alaska is what did this today.”
The ferries will be constructed by Vigor Alaska at the Ketchikan Shipyard for $101.5 million. The project will add 150 jobs and four years of year-round employment to Ketchikan’s maritime workforce.
They will be the first state ferries and the largest ships to ever be built in Alaska. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2018.
Each ferry will be 280 feet long, seat up to 300 passengers and carry 53 vehicles. The ferries will feature bow and stern doors for quicker loading and unloading, fully enclosed car decks, and controllable pitch propellers to maximize maneuverability and efficiency. A modified hull design will greatly improve traveler comfort during rough weather.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 10 ferries serving 33 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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