Alaska’s ferry system has made a few schedule changes to make up for missed stops in Southeast this week, following mechanical problems on two state ferries.
The state ferry Taku is tied up in Ketchikan this week as the Marine Highway System works to figure out how to fix a steering problem. The 49-year-old vessel suffered a failure of an hydraulic ram that controls one of the ship’s two rudders as it sailed into Petersburg Monday morning. The Taku headed south under its own power Tuesday, with tugboat assistance on the way to Ketchikan.
Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said workers are examining the problem. “Now that it’s in Ketchikan, they’re gonna look that over thoroughly and see what actually needs to be done to the hydraulic ram whether it needs to be rebuilt or if they can do repairs there in Ketchikan or if it needs to be sent elsewhere and get some emergency repairs done,” Woodrow said.
Ferry officials are hoping the steering problem will be fixed in time for the Taku to sail out of Ketchikan northbound on Friday evening November 2nd. The mechanical problem forced the Marine Highway to cancel sailings through Friday, impacting passengers bound for Wrangell and Prince Rupert this week. To make up for those cancellations, Woodrow said the ferry Kennicott will be adding stops this weekend. “On the third of November the Kennicott’s going to be departing Ketchikan, going to Prince Rupert and back. It’s going to arrive in Prince Rupert on the fourth, go back to Ketchikan on the fourth, and then continue northbound to Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Yakutat to Whittier,” he said.
Meanwhile, another ferry, the 38-year-old LeConte is back in service after an electrical problem forced it to stay tied up in Juneau for a day and a half earlier this week. Woodrow said a scheduled sailing was cancelled Monday and another one changed on Tuesday. “Normally the ferry runs to Hoonah and back to Juneau on Mondays and the Gustavus and back on Tuesdays. Because of the cancellation on Monday we tried to fit in a Gustavus-Hoonah-Juneau triangle trip. That wasn’t able to make it because they just couldn’t get the repairs on the electrical done in time. There was a large traffic demand out of Hoonah. So we had to cancel the Gustavus trip and get the ferry to Hoonah and back yesterday afternoon,” Woodrow said.
The LeConte sails to Lynn Canal communities Wednesday, October 31st and then will do separate trips from the Capital City to Gustavus and Hoonah on Thursday November 1st. Passengers can find more information on schedule changes toll free at 1-800-642-0066 or online at dot.state.ak.us