Alaska’s state ferry system hires a new boss

the state ferry Kennicott
The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Kennicott near Ketchikan. (CC photo by Jay Galvin)

The state of Alaska has hired a new leader for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Craig Tornga has been selected as the ferry system’s new marine director. In that role, he’ll oversee hundreds of ferry workers and a fleet of nine ships. The marine director position, formerly known as the AMHS General Manager, has been vacant since the retirement of Captain John Falvey in January.

Craig Tornga
Craig Tornga has been selected as the new Marine Director for the Alaska Marine Highway System. His first day will be Monday, April 3, 2023. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

According to the state Department of Transportation, Tornga has extensive experience in the marine industry and management. He started his maritime career sailing aboard ocean-going vessels with Crowley Marine Services, which transports fuel and supplies in Alaska. He spent over 20 years working his way up through that company.

Since 2017, Tornga has served as a senior vice president with Kirby Offshore Marine in Houston, Texas. The company distributes petroleum products with a fleet of offshore tugs and barges.

The state worked with the Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board on the hire, which unanimously supported Tornga. Board Chair Shirley Marquardt said that the board is confident that Tornga’s “decades of experience and knowledge in the unique marine industry here in Alaska and Houston span every element needed” to manage the ferry system.

Tornga will take over a ferry system facing numerous challenges, from short-staffing to an aging fleet.

Tornga’s first day on the job will be Monday, April 3.

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