The Inter-Island Ferry Authority plans to step-up efforts to sell one of its vessels. The M-V Prince of Wales is currently filling in while her sister ship, the M-V Stikine, undergoes regular maintenance. After that, IFA Interim Manager Dennis Watson expects to lay up the Prince of Wales and put it on the market late this spring.
“We really hate to think about doing anything with it because it’s a great stand in vessel. But the moorage and insurance and layup costs of the vessel run at a bare minimum run about 200 thousand dollars a year. So the board has determined that they would like to get rid of the vessel, sell it. So, we haven’t openly advertised it yet. You know we’ve talked to the state of Alaska about possibilities and we’ve even talked to some individuals about leasing it that were interested. But none of those have gone anywhere so when the vessel goes back into layup and the Stikine comes back online, we will be actively pursuing selling (The MV Prince of Wales),” Watson says.
Watson expects that effort to start sometime in May. He says the IFA board will be discussing the issue at its meetings between now and then.
The 200-foot Prince of Wales went into service in 2002, making daily runs between the Prince of Wales Island community of Hollis and Ketchikan. The Stikine came on line in 2006 to serve Coffman Cove, Wrangell and Petersburg but the IFA suspended that route a few years later for lack of riders and revenue.
Watson says the IFA is keeping the Stikine for the Hollis to Ketchikan route because it has a bit more capacity that the Prince of Wales:
“You know with crew and all we’re around 200 persons capacity with it. And we do have times in the summer where we run right up against that number so the larger capacity is big thing for us,” he says.
Even with just the one remaining route, the community-based ferry service struggles to stay in business, according to Watson who notes that the state has helped cover the IFA’s deficits. He says that assistance has become critical with increasing fuel prices.
The Prince of Wales cost 13 million dollars to build with a combination of funding sources including federal dollars, municipal loans and a revenue bond. According to Watson, selling the vessel could allow the IFA to put away extra money for maintenance, which could take some of the pressure off the operating budget. He’s not yet sure what the asking price will be for the Prince of Wales.