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.