New Alaskan Fast Ferry Christened at Derecktor

Monday, January 10, 2005
The wife of Alaska’s senior senator Ted Stevens, christened Alaska’s second fast ferry at the Derecktor Shipyard in Bridgeport, Conn. The ship -- M/V Chenega -- is scheduled to begin service in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in late spring.

Designed by Nigel Gee and built by Derecktor Shipyard, the vessel is the second aluminum passenger and vehicle carrying catamaran built for the state. Once it is put into service, it will provide daily service between its homeport of Cordova and the surface highway accessible communities of Valdez and Whittier -- at travel times of almost half those of most Alaska Marine Highway vessels.

The name Chenega was nominated by sixth grader Emily Oskolkoff of Ninilchik School in the Kenai School District who won a Statewide Essay contest to name the new ferry. Alaska law requires a state ferry to be named after an Alaska glacier, and as in the past Alaska students helped make history by writing essays to name the two new ferries the Chenega and the Fairweather. The MV Kennicott was named in a similar contest after eleven year old Leah Jarvis, from Copper Center, submitted a winning essay in 1997.

“The addition of the Chenega will continue to change our system,” noted Tom Briggs, Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Director of Marine Operations. “While we’ve done a good job of providing regular service to Cordova, Valdez and Whittier, the Chenega will greatly improve access by providing these communities with daily service.” Captain John Falvey, General Manager, noted the system began using fast ferries last year with the introduction of the M/V Fairweather, and that the learning curve is steep. “We’ve gotten to the point where the crew is comfortable navigating the Fairweather and traveling at more than 30 knots – a major accomplishment, especially during the winter, “ he said. “While we now have crew trained for the Inside Passage, we are going to have to adapt that knowledge to Prince William Sound.”

Gavin Higgins, COO of Derecktor Shipyard, noted the importance of the vessel's construction to the shipyard, as well. "The Chenega, like its sister ship, the Fairweather, utilizes the latest technology in building techniques and equipment. We’ve learned a great deal from the Fairweather’s performance and have applied that to the Chenega. It’s a great vessel, a true prototype for 21st century ferry travel, and one that will provide Alaska with another great, “state of the art” ship.”

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