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(JUNEAU, Alaska) – The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is making a vessel route change with the goals of saving money and utilizing the new Alaska Class Ferries (ACF) as soon as possible.
AMHS will move the ACF Tazlina to Lynn Canal to replace service by the F/V Fairweather, starting in May 2019. The ACF Hubbard will move to Prince William Sound to replace service provided by the Aurora in 2020.
“I commend AMHS for taking a hard look at the system and recognizing opportunities to save money,” said DOT&PF Commissioner John MacKinnon. “By putting the Alaska Class Ferries into service sooner, we can replace vessels earlier and save on maintenance costs.”
This operational shift will not require $27 million in capital funding that was requested to add crew cabins for the ACFs. Forward side doors will still be added to the ACFs at a cost of approximately $3 million for both vessels.
Additional savings will be recognized by retiring the expensive Fairweather and aging Aurora before approximately $11 million in repairs are required this year. The repairs would run roughly $1 million for annual Fairweather overhaul and $10 million for major engine repairs for to Aurora.
While service to communities will remain at roughly the same levels as outlined in the current summer schedule, there will be minor impacts from this shift. The Tazlina is a conventional speed vessel that will probably operate seven days a week, rather than four, to provide the same level of service. The Tazlina is also larger and can carry more passengers and vehicles. Additionally, the Tazlina is a more efficient vessel and will require $500,000 less in fuel costs annually.
AMHS will be contacting passengers impacted by this switch in vessels to rebook or refund fares as necessary.