More Tustumena Delays Won’t Affect Aleutians

Courtesy of Nancy Heise
Courtesy of Nancy Heise

The state ferry Tustumena has already missed its first sailings in May as it undergoes repairs in shipyard. Now, it’s delayed again — but its first trip to the Aleutians isn’t set to change.

The ferry will spend five extra days off the water, making its first trip between Homer, Seldovia and Kodiak on May 17. It will still set out from Homer for the Aleutian Chain on May 19, as planned.

Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the Tustumena needs more repairs to one of its firefighting water pipes to meet Coast Guard standards.

But once it’s cleared, he says he doesn’t expect the ferry’s abbreviated summer schedule to be impacted any more by state budget cuts.

“The Tustumena is unique — it’s the only ferry that calls on numerous communities. Changing the Tustumena’s schedule would affect many communities that are serviced by that one vessel,” he says. “Therefore, we almost necessarily need to keep that vessel intact and its service unaltered.”

The state is contacting this month’s affected passengers to help them rebook their trips. The ferry is still set to make its first stop in Unalaska May 23.

Annie Ropeik is a reporter for KUCB in Unalaska.

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