Fairweather Out With Engine Problems

Friday, February 10, 2006
The Alaska Marine Highway System announced today that it is estimating the fast vehicle ferry M/V Fairweather will be out of service until mid-April due to a problem with all four of its MTU diesel engines.

“It is apparent that the cylinder sleeves on the engines have developed hairline cracks, which have allowed coolant to enter the cylinders,” said Captain John Falvey, AMHS General Manager. “We have been in contact with the manufacturer and are proceeding with a plan to replace all the sleeves on the engines, which we estimate will take nine to ten weeks.”

The MTU diesels are manufactured in Germany and use an aluminum block. They were chosen for the fast ferries in an effort to keep the weight down. Like other diesel engines, they have steel sleeves inside the cylinder, in which the pistons move up and down. The cause of the hairline cracking has not been determined.

The Fairweather and its sister ship, the M/V Chenega, were in the Ketchikan shipyard for regularly scheduled annual maintenance when the problem was diagnosed. The Fairweather had to have one of its engines replaced under warranty last year when it developed a coolant leak due to a manufacturer’s defect. Falvey said it is unclear how much of the current breakdown will be covered by warranty.

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