JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Marine Highway System is moving forward with plans to get rid of the ferry Taku, but it is still undecided about what to do with the sidelined ship Chenega.
Taku, which is more than 50 years old, has been laid up for more than a year. The Marine Transportation Advisory Board discussed plans Monday to sell or scrap the 350-pound vessel, KTOO-FM reported. Taku has been appraised for sale as a working vessel and for scrap metal, but officials have not released those figures.
Marine highway chief Mike Neussl said the agency has received approval from the Federal Highway Administration on its next steps for Taku. State officials are now working “on the actual procedures necessary to declare that vessel excess and dispose of it through the proper channels, either by sale or scrapping the vessel,” Neussl said.
As for Chenega, Neussl said the vessel’s future remains undetermined. It was overhauled in Seattle earlier this year and has been tied up in a Tacoma, Washington shipyard since this fall. The price tag for getting the ferry back in service is about $1 million and it still needs some work done.
“As every day goes by, additional licenses and certificates expire that will need to be updated as part of the process of bringing it back online,” Neussl said.
The Chenega is one of Alaska’s fast ferries and has significantly cut travel time for riders, but the vessel has come at a higher per-hour operating cost than conventional ferries.
Neussl said one way to reduce costs is to reduce the size of the system’s fleet. State budget cuts have resulted in a schedule that doesn’t require all 11 ferries to be in operation, he said. The state spends about $500,000 annually tying up Taku and Chenega.