The Alaska Marine Highway’s request for proposals to cover about two weeks worth of runs between Homer and Kodiak has not produced the results it wanted. Ferry system spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says only one company – Bering marine Corporation of Anchorage – applied:
“They were able to transport vehicles but no passengers, and because of that stipulation, the Marine Highway System concluded that the response was unresponsive, because we were looking for something that could carry passengers and vehicles for that … to fill in for the Tustumena in that time period.”
As a result, there will be about a week and a half gap in service to Kodiak in mid July. If all goes well – and it hasn’t so far – Woodrow says the Tustumena should next call on Kodiak July 24th. The Kennicott, which has been serving Kodiak about once a week in the Tusty’s absence, is getting busy in Southeast this time of year:
“Well, the Kennicott won’t be able to provide any additional service in lieu of the Tustumena. Unfortunately, summertime, as we know, is the busiest time for the Marine Highway System,” he said. “The Kennicott is full on all its other routes as are the other ferries that maybe could pick up the additional passengers that might have been on the Kennicott. So we can’t reroute the Kennicott and other ferries to be able to pick up the slack for the Tustumena, unfortunately.”
Because of the Tustumena delays, the Kennicott had made a couple of rare trips out west this spring, leaving Dutch Harbor most recently on May 31st, and that was because the initial work on the Tustumena had been schedule well in advance.
“When we had further advance notice, we were able to shift schedules around due to lighter loads of traffic demand. We were able to get the Kennicott to run out to the chain twice to pick up for the Tustumena, however that’s not the case here.”
After the Tustumena returns to its Kodiak homeport, it’s scheduled to sail for the Alaska Peninsula the very next day, on July 25th, arriving in Dutch Harbor on the 27th.
Woodrow says that return to service date is reasonable, and hopes the Seward Shipyard can get the work done on time.