Paul Derecktor, Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Perkins
and several Alaska State Officials were in attendance last week at the State Capitol in Juno, for the signature of the contract that entrusts Derecktor Shipyards with the construction of two new high-speed ferries for the Alaska Marine
This contract will be the first time a U.S. yard builds passenger-vehicle high-speed ferries. Until now the domain of overseas shipbuilders, the passenger-vehicle high-speed ferries have proven their worth in many countries around the world. The Jones Act requires that these boats servicing U.S. waters be built in the US. Derecktor Shipyards teamed
up with Nigel Gee and Associates (NGA) Ltd of Southampton, England and will use one of their original designs, developed expressly for the Alaska project.
The manufacturers say the new boats are designed to be safe, high-speed RO/RO passenger ferries that minimize costs and can interface with existing AMHS docks and pier side facilities. They can carry 250 passengers on the main deck and 35 large vehicles, of the type mostly used in Alaska, on the cargo deck at a continuous-rating service speed of 35 knots and with great comfort up to sea state 6.
This project, funded by the Federal Government will allow the State of Alaska to link Sitka to Juneau with fast modern boats, capable of a comfortable one-day round trip, and improve service to communities in Prince William Sound.
The first vessel is scheduled to enter service between Juno and Sitka at the beginning of 2004, while the second vessel should follow a year later.
"These ferries will improve transportation in coastal Alaska and will help the Alaska Marine
Highway System improve its bottom line," DOT Commissioner Perkins said. "This is the
beginning of a whole new era in marine transportation in Alaska." The Alaska Marine Highway System has been operating year-round since 1963, with regularly scheduled passenger and
vehicle service to 32 communities in Alaska. It carries over 300,000 passengers every year.
Gavin Higgins, General Manager of Derecktor Shipyards and the man that willed the winning bid
through almost two years of preparation, said today: "We are very excited to be finally in front of the starting gate. Together with Nigel Gee, we did a tremendous amount of work to study and
refine this new vessel design in detail and we are pleased that all our work has paid off. Now we
are ready to execute and this is really going to be the most interesting and rewarding part of this
project – making it a reality"
Classed with DNV Maltese Cross 1A1 HSLC, R3 and with full USCG compliance to SOLAS/HSC
Code Cat. B, these aluminum vessels will take advantage of Derecktor’s experience and high
level of craftsmanship in the field of highly-stressed aluminum construction.