Friday, October 25, 2019

AMHS set to tie up Malaspina, with future of 56 year vessel still to be determined

The Alaska Ferry MV Malaspina from earlier this year at Fairview. 
On Thursday the State of Alaska announced that it would
come out of service  
in January with no determination as to
when much needed  overhaul work will take place

While the future of service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan is a topic that has still to be resolved, when the MV Malaspina wraps up her recently announced special trips to the city of October and November, the 25th of November may be the last that harbour watchers in the city will get to see the storied vessel of the AMHS fleet.

The Alaska Marine Highway System announced on Thursday that as of January 10th, the Malaspina will end it's service for the System.

It's immediate future that to be tied up  and placed in unmanned, long term lay-up status in Ketchikan. The longer term options to this point are still unknown.

The decision to sideline the workhorse of the fleet was made after the AMHS reviewed the work required for what should have been a 2020 overhaul.

The Malaspina was scheduled for that work over this winter, however a preliminary investigation revealed extensive steel replacement was needed. The repair work for the 56-year-old vessel was estimated to be at least $16 million, which the State notes is in excess of the available budget and cannot be completed at this time.

The State observes that no long term decisions have been made at this time when it comes to the future of the vessel. But the move to in effect mothball the Malaspina, comes as the AMHS continues to face a range of financial challenges owing to funding from the State.

Earlier this month, details as to what the future status for sailings to Prince Rupert may be were outlined by the State of Alaska. With the Governor applauding the work taking place to try to find ways to resolve the outstanding issues for the service on the Kethcikan-Prince Rupert run.

The two temporary runs of October and November were announced after the City of Prince Rupert offered to provide for armed RCMP assistance at the Prince Rupert terminal for the two sailings.

It's not yet known what impact, if any, that the loss of another vessel from the roster of ships of the service available for transit will have on future plans for the AMHS routes.

For more notes related to the Alaska Marine Highway System and its service to Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

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