One of Southeast Alaska’s ferries stalled near Petersburg on Wednesday.
The southbound Columbia ferry arrived in Petersburg early this morning and was scheduled to depart shortly after, but an unexpected delay left the boat parked in town all day.
Alaska Marine Highway System spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says a mechanical issue with the ship’s starboard engine required the ferry to remain moored.
“It will remain there as long as the AMHS technicians are troubleshooting the situation,” says Woodrow. “We’re working on an action plan. We’ve notified passengers on board and all other passengers would be on the southbound sailings of the situation.”
Woodrow says there will be travel delays for passengers scheduled to ride the Columbia this week.
“We will be calling passengers when we have a better idea of how long the Columbia will be delayed and what the repair timeline will be,” says Woodrow.
The department is working on an action plan for getting the Columbia to Ketchikan for repairs. The boat has two engines but it’s unclear whether it could make it through the Wrangell Narrows with only one of them functioning.
According to Woodrow, there are alternative transportation options for Columbia passengers, depending on where they’re headed, though it would mean sailing on a different day.
“If they’re trying to go from Petersburg to Juneau or Wrangell or Kake, the other alternative is the Matanuska which does sail north at least once a week and South once or twice a week as well,” says Woodrow.
But for those headed to Bellingham, Washington from Petersburg or Wrangell, Woodrow says right now the Columbia is the only option. Updates may be posted on ferryalaska.com and a notice will be sent to customers when they have a better idea of the timeline for repairs.
The Columbia is one of Alaska’s main ferries, running routes between Skagway and Bellingham, Washington.