For years the citizens of Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska were only able to commute to the Island of Ketchikan on a weekly basis, leaving them frustrated and isolated. In January of 2002 the 150 passenger car/ferry Prince of Wales entered service providing a much awaited daily transportation link between the two islands, and providing the 5,000 residents of the remote southeast Alaska region with a critical link and regular, reliable service—something they had long been without.
It took long years of hard work to accomplish this contact with the outside. The community, unhappy with the level of service provided to them by the Alaska Marine Highway system, took matters into their own hands and in 1998 established their own ferry system to serve the Prince of Wales Island communities of Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay and Coffman Cove, connecting them to the Island of Ketchikan. The project created
its own Port Authority with the State’s blessing and built the new $12 million ferry.
The Prince of Wales, is 197 ft. long by 53 ft. wide, and was built at Dakota Creek Industries
in Anacortes, Wash.
It is a modern ship with airline-style seats throughout, a reading lounge, work and study areas, a galley, a children’s area and an outside covered passenger walkway with a solarium and overhead heaters, making it as comfortable as possible for the 6-hour daily round trip from the Hollis dock on Prince of Wales Island
to Ketchikan. The terminal at Hollis is setup for side-loading, so the new ferry has a side door for loading and unloading at Hollis. The need for a bow thruster on the Prince of Wales ferry was established in part because it loads and unloads alternately from the stern and the starboard.
Positioning and holding the vessel close to the dock in both cases requires the combined
power of the bow thruster, and dual controllable pitch propellers.
This is where the powerful WESMAR 200 horsepower dual prop electric
earns its keep as it holds the
ferry tight against the dock. In
Ketchikan, the ferry backs into
a new dock and loads and unloads
through a center door in
the stern. Here much of the
work is done with the 72” controllable
pitch propellers. Together
the thruster and the controllable
pitch propellers move the 96-ton vessel to and from the dock, front and back, port
The car deck capacity is 30 autos or a combination
of cars and up to 10 freight vans. To save space
and weight, the vans are generally loaded and unloaded with small yard tractors at each end. Further accommodations have been made for large
trucks to go in the middle or
on the port side. Maximum
height is just over 15 feet.
The Prince of Wales was built
by Dakota Creek Industries
Inc., Anacortes, Washington,
90 minutes north of Seattle one
of the most modern, mediumsized
shipyards in the United
States. The facility is located
on a deep water, protected
channel in Anacortes and is
recognized for its quality new
vessel construction, ranging
from high speed aluminum
catamaran ferries to factory
and ocean-going tugs.
Ship repair, conversions, and
upgrades have also been an important
service provided to
both U.S. and international ship
Dakota Creek Project Manager
on the Prince of Wales
was Dave Longdale. He said the WESMAR unit works well and the installation was smooth. A WESMAR bow thruster is responsible for tight docking onboard the 197-foot Prince of Wales Passenger/Car Ferry in SE Alaska.