M/V Tustumena to return to service later than expected

The 58-year-old ferry will begin operating again on July 15.

The M/V Tustumena is scheduled to return to service on July 15, staying an additional 15 days in the JAG shipyard in Seward, according to a release from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

A majority of passengers with tickets on the Tustumena during that time will be serviced by the M/V Kennicott, the release stated. All passengers will be contacted by the Alaska Marine Highway System to reschedule voyages.

The 58-year-old Tustumena is currently undergoing renovations, including improvements and replacements to passenger and vehicle elevators, steelwork, superstructure coating, bridge deck and interior engineering systems. The JAG shipyard in Seward received the $9.4 million improvement project at the end of December 2021.

Construction progress has been delayed due to supply chain issues, vendor delays and the extent of the repairs needed, according to the release. Additionally, delays in awarding the initial construction bid factored into the postponed return.

The Tustumena is scheduled to be replaced in approximately six years, which was announced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson on Dec. 6. According to Dunleavy, the Tustumena requires roughly $2 million worth of annual repairs and is approaching the end of its service life. The replacement vessel is estimated to cost $200- $250 million and will be competitively bid.

The Tustumena was built in 1964 and is the only vessel capable of serving all 13 ports of call between Homer and Unalaska. Until it is replaced in 2027, the “Trusty Tusty” will continue serving all 13 ports.

For more information, contact the Alaska Marine Highway System at 907-465-4503.

Reach Sarah Knapp at sarah.knapp@homernews.com.