(JUNEAU, Alaska)—The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has released its Summer 2023 schedule, allowing bookings for travel this summer. This schedule is different from the Summer of 2022, as challenges with hiring skilled crew prevent AMHS from running both the Kennecott and the Columbia at the same time. The May 1 through Sept. 30 schedule represents a baseline service that will be increased as AMHS crewing improves.
To provide the most reliable service to Alaskans, the 2023 summer schedule will include the M/V Columbia, the M/V LeConte, and the M/V Hubbard as the primary vessels servicing Southeast Alaska. The M/V Tustumena will continue to serve Southwest Alaska, the M/V Aurora will continue to serve Prince William Sound, and the M/V Lituya will continue to serve the Ketchikan area. The M/V Kennicott and M/V Tazlina will be off-line for the time being due to skilled crew shortages, but will be brought back on-line once hiring increases. The M/V Matanuska remains in layup due to needed repairs.
Hiring new and experienced crew is the most significant challenge in moving beyond a baseline ferry schedule. Since January, AMHS has taken additional steps to hire and recruit skilled workers. Those changes have included extending the signing bonus for IBU members, increased advertising throughout Alaska and the Lower-48, outreach to all Alaska High Schools, and reestablishing an AMHS job fair presence throughout the state and Lower-48. The department is also considering establishing a conditional hire program for qualified candidates awaiting credentialing paperwork, a shipboard internship program, and a Ketchikan-based training program.
The baseline schedule focuses on service to Alaskans in the three coastal regions that AMHS serves—Southeast, Southwest, and Prince William Sound. Running the M/V Columbia strengthens the overall reliability of the system this summer, as the crewing requirements are less stringent for inside waters. Until AMHS hires additional crew to sail the M/V Kennicott, Prince Rupert, Yakutat, and cross-gulf sailings to Whittier will not be included on the baseline schedule.
“DOT&PF and AMHS will be seeking alternative travel arrangements for Cross Gulf, Prince Rupert and Yakutat travel,” said DOT&PF Commissioner Ryan Anderson. “While we are hopeful we can get the Kennicott crewed over the next months, we will also be evaluating possibilities to continue Prince Rupert service through alternative means and provide supplemental service for Yakutat and cross Gulf of Alaska connections.”
To review the updated AMHS summer schedule check here: www.dot.alaska.gov/amhs/schedules.shtml
To make reservations for travel on AMHS check here: https://bookamhs.alaska.gov/book/sailing-search/journeySearch/