The Alaska Marine Highway System announced that the MV
Columbia has been delayed in Ketchikan by an engine problem, and will
not make its northbound schedule. In its place, the MV Kennicott will
pick up the Columbia’s northbound passengers and car deck load. The
Kennicott is scheduled to leave Ketchikan tonight at 11:15, will
depart Wrangell at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Petersburg at 2 p.m., and
arrive in Juneau on Tuesday at 10 p.m. It will then depart for a
cross-Gulf voyage to Yakutat, Valdez, and Seward on Wednesday at 1:30 a.m.
Captain John Falvey, AMHS general manager, said ferry system engineers
are working around the clock with representatives of Cascade General
the Portland, Oregon shipyard that recently completed an 8-month-long
rebuild of both of the Columbia’s massive Enterprise engines.
“We believe the problem has been isolated to a defective camshaft in the
starboard engine,” Falvey said. “The repair work will be done in
Ketchikan. In the meantime, we are bringing the Taku back into service
to fill in for the Columbia until it is able to carry passengers.”
Falvey noted that both the Matanuska and the Malaspina are in the
shipyard in Ketchikan for annual maintenance, which is normally
scheduled to take place ahead of the busy summer visitor season, and are
not available. The Taku has been in winter lay-up and was scheduled to
be activated in late September. Falvey expects the Taku to be in
service and depart Ketchikan for Juneau Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
“The Taku is a significantly smaller vessel than the Columbia, in
terms of car deck space and staterooms, so it is imperative that we get
the Columbia back into full-time service as soon as possible,” Falvey
said. The Columbia carries 499 passengers, with 104 staterooms, and
car deck space for 134 average-sized vehicles. The Taku carries 370
passengers, with 44 staterooms, and a car deck for 69 vehicles.
The work on the Columbia’s engines was part of a larger,
federally-funded overhaul costing more than $10 million, and the first
complete engine rebuild since the vessel was constructed and entered
service in 1974. The camshaft repair is covered under warranty.
AMHS customers are advised to check with their local terminal operators
for exact departure times for the Kennicott.