LISTENING – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski listens in the audience as she's introduced during Wednesday's Sitka Chamber of Commerce meeting at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Murkowski and members of her staff spent the day in Sitka visiting with constituents. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

State Ferry to Remain Docked Til End of Feb.

    JUNEAU (AP) — An Alaska state ferry that was previously scheduled to sail this week will remain out of service for the rest of the month.
    The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced Wednesday that the Matanuska will remain in Juneau for more than two weeks.
    The ferry’s new propulsion equipment malfunctioned as it sailed to Haines from Bellingham, Washington.
    “We have a 55-year-old ship, and what breaks? The new stuff,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon.
    The ship is scheduled to sail to Ketchikan on its functional engine, where it is expected to receive warranty work from Vigor Industrial LLC. The firm operates the Ketchikan shipyard and a yard in Portland, Oregon, that installed the troubled equipment.
    The Alaska Marine Highway System said in a statement Wednesday that the Matanuska will be inspected in dry dock to determine the extent of needed repairs.
    The prolonged delay announcement came after the marine highway system said the ferry would be out of service until Feb. 7 due to ongoing mechanical issues.
    About 20 passengers remained on the Matanuska after it went out of service for engine repairs Jan. 26 in the hopes it would sail this week.
    The marine highway system has refunded fares for current Matanuska passengers and worked with them to find alternative transportation.
    “AMHS is aware of travel needs for upcoming school and community tournaments in March and is exploring options for alternative service in the event Matanuska is unable to return to service as planned,” the agency said.

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