The 418 ft. ferry M.V. Columbia, owned by the State of Alaska, has returned to service on the Bellingham-Skagway run after a winter layover at Cascade General
. The thirty-year old ship emerged from the Portland Shipyard with
a re-designed restaurant and cafeteria, re-furbished car-deck doors, renovated solarium, and with a laundry conveyor/elevator installed above the car deck.
Both food-service areas were re-built from the deck up, with new floors, carpets, booths, Gage ceilings, and designer lighting. The restaurant dining room features an 11 ft.-diameter dome light over a buffet counter, stainless steel case work, and an improved layout for the serving staff. The restaurant galley's cooking equipment was all upgraded, and now vents into a full-length Gaylord stainless steel hood. Upgraded piping, floors and electrical service were fitted in the food-preparation area, before new refrigerators were installed. Forward of this area is the cafeteria, which was also completely re-modeled, with new stovetops, self-service counter, and all new furnishings in the passenger area.
The solarium on the Columbia is an ever-popular feature--as the ship's "patio," and as a campground for the more adventurous traveler. However, the overhead windows had been plagued with leaks and cracking for several years, necessitating a complete re-fit. The structure was stripped bare, sand-blasted and painted prior to fitting almost 300 new window assemblies, consisting of safety-glass, gasket and custom-made two-part aluminum frames.
On the car deck, inspection of the port and starboard side doors revealed significant wear. A total of sixteen dog rods, ten pneumatic cylinders, plus hoses and seals were replaced. The hydraulic system on the stern door was also overhauled. A new linen-storage area was fabricated and suspended above the car deck forward. It is serviced by a conveyor from below and an elevator up to the main deck.
The project also included a dry-docking for inspection of rudders, C.P. propellers, stern shafts and bowthruster. All sea chests and valves were checked and the hull water-blasted. The M.V. Columbia is one of nine ships in the Alaska Marine Highway fleet, all of which have visited the Portland Shipyard in recent years.
Also in the Portland Shipyard, the 186 ft. Agate Pass (YTT 12) a U.S. Navy surplus torpedo-trials craft, is undergoing a total conversion into a research vessel for NOAA. It was built in 1990 by MacDermott as the second of the Cape Flattery Class, but never put into service. Torpedoes were loaded by an on-deck crane via a slot in the ship's mid-deck, and fired through a pair of 21in. tubes on each side of the keel.
The Agate Pass resembles an offshore work
boat, with a high freeboard forward, flush aft deck served by a 44,000 lbs capacity crane, twin Z-drives and a bow thruster supplementing a standard center-line
shaft. The engine room holds four Cummins diesels, two 480 Kw units generating power for the thrusters and ship's service, a 125 Kw unit for emergency back-up, with a 1250 hp V-12 turning the main shaft. Beam is 40 ft., draft 11 ft., loaded displacement 1200 lbs.