October 2, 2022
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Alaska has entered negotiations to sell its ageing M/V Malaspina ferry (seen above) to Alaska-based MV Malaspina LLC (MVM), which is floating plans to use the 59-year-old ship as a training facility for the University of Alaska’s Maritime Training Center in Ketchikan or as a maritime museum chronicling the history of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

[Above photo by the Alaska DOT&PF]

Constructed in 1963, the M/V Malaspina was the first ship to enter Alaska Marine Highway System. Named after the Malaspina Glacier – located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve – the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities said in a statement it is retiring the ship due to high repair costs.

Moored at Ward Cove in Ketchikan in long-term layup since December 2019, repair estimates for the M/V Malaspina initially topped $16 million, but have increased substantially since discovering significant steel damage, along with estimated midlife conversion requirements and the ship’s need for a repower, including engines, reduction gears, and propellers, the agency said.

The move to sell the M/V Malaspina comes after Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) and Ryan Anderson, Alaska DOT&PF commissioner, unveiled a plan in December 2021 to “re-energize” the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The marine highway serves 35 communities in Alaska and transports goods, vehicles and passengers between communities. The ocean highway also links coastal communities to Alaska’s highway and rail network, Alaska DOT&PF noted.

That plan includes a more reliable and longer ferry sailing schedule as well as establishing essential ferry service for rural communities, with a potential for $1 billion in funding coming from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021.

editor@aashto.org

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