Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Former Ferry to Prince Rupert could soon be Portland bound

Once a familiar sight in Prince Rupert harbour,
Portland, Fiji or the scrapyard appears to be the destiny
for the former Alaska Ferry Taku

The Alaska Marine Highway System may have found a potential buyer for their mothballed vessel Taku, with a Portland entrepreneur offering up the highest of three bids received for the ferry.

The bid process hosted by the State of Alaska closed on Friday with State officials opening the bids received, once they compared their notes they found that a bid from a Portland developer offered the most dollars for the vessel that  was taken out of active service in 2015 and currently sits at a dock in Ketchikan.

It's a ship that has some history with the North Coast and Vessel watchers along the Prince Rupert harbour will remember the days when the Taku made regular stops at the Fairview AMHS terminal as it transited to and from Ketchikan.

The Juneau Empire took some interest in the plans of Jonathen Cohen of Portland, who as they discovered would like to turn the vessel into a floating hotel on the Portland waterfront, with plans for occasional transits along Oregon waterways.

The Empire reports that Mr. Cohen's bid came in at $300,000 dollars, significantly higher than the two other bids, of $50,400 and $50,000, the latter from British Columbian Indra Goundar, a former BC Ferries employee who has plans to run the ferry as part of his fleet currently operating in Fiji.

That name should be familiar for those of us living below the A/B line, Mr. Goundar has made a bit of a career out of bying up out of service ferries, having purchased the Queen of Prince Rupert in 2011 to launch his transportation line.

The Queen of North which became the Lomaiviti Princess I, was the first of two vessels he purchased from BC ferries, In January of 2016 The Queen of Chilliwack joined the Fijian fleet, renamed the Lomaiviti Princess 3.

At that time the sale of the Queen of Chilliwack made for some controversy at the BC Legislature, with a purchase price of 2 million dollars coming shortly after 15 million dollars had been spent on a refit for the vessel. Which as the then NDP opposition of the time noted made for a 13 million dollar loss.

The third bid for the Taku, comes from a resident of New Zealand, who serves as a buyer for a Dubai company which purchases vessels for scrap.

All three bids were below the State's declared price of $350,000 The Alaska Government plans to review each bid before deciding on which one they will move forward with.

Though one imagines that they won't take too much time to make a decision. The attempts to sell the Taku have seen the State have to extend the process four times in quest of a successful bid since the first put the Taku up for sale.

The asking price for the vessel has also dropped significantly from the 1.5 million dollar ask of the first call for bids,

For more items related the AMHS service to Prince Rupert and other Ferry transportation notes on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Update: On Tuesday, the State of Alaska confirmed that they had accepted the bid from Portland based KeyMar LLC

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