Mat-Su Borough rejects $2M offer for unused ferry

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has received a $2 million offer for an unused ferry that’s racking up monthly maintenance costs, but the borough manager says the municipality needs a higher offer to cover a grant that must be repaid to the federal government.

The borough has turned down the $2 million offer for the ferry from Abu Dhabi Mar LLC, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The borough is on the hook for $6 million to the Federal Transit Administration if the $78 million catamaran Susitna is not used for municipal public transportation.

“I do not see that (the $2 million) being an acceptable offer,” borough manager John Moosey said. “It might be acceptable if we did not have a $6 million liability with the FTA.”

The rejection was a surprise to the company from Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates. The company wanted to use the ferry as a mobile service platform for patrol boats stationed on islands. The Abu Dhabi offer was the highest received.

Johan Valentijn, chief operating officer, said in correspondence to the borough that the company made the $2 million offer in response to a borough request and assurance in mid-August that “the vessel could be ours” for that amount. Later messages indicated frustration with a lack of direction from “confused” borough staff and an indecisive borough assembly.

“It is up to the Borough council to decide to either go forward with us,” Valentijn wrote in a letter Sept. 23. The alternative, he continued, would be to have the ferry remain in “Alaska for the foreseeable future as a memory of bad communications.”

The Susitna can carry up to 130 passengers and 20 cars. It was accepted to provide ferry service between Anchorage and Port MacKenzie. However, no landings have been built, and borough officials concluded that the vessel would be too expensive to operate. Mat-Su officials put the ferry up for sale last year. 

They said they would consider giving the vessel to a government entity that could relieve them of the federal grant obligation.

The assembly in June indicated that it would part with the ferry even if it meant repaying the grant obligation. The ferry has been docked outside Ketchikan and has cost $1.3 million for crew fees and other expenses. 

However, assembly members then authorized Moosey to find a way to store the ferry near the port for the winter.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point house fire leaves one dead, one in serious condition

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)
Center promotes avalanche awareness

The Chugach Avalanche Center in Girdwood will begin its daily forecasts Saturday.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Historic sockeye run predicted for Bristol Bay

ADF&G says 2022 run could break this year’s record

The entrance to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest was covered in snow on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, a day after federal authorities announced the next step in restoring the 2001 Roadless Rule on the forest. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Feds put freeze on Roadless Rule rollback

On the Roadless Rule again.

Alaska man pleads not guilty to threatening 2 US senators

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Commercial fishing vessels are seen here on the Kenai River on July 10, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Fishing industry takes a hit during pandemic

Overall fish harvesting jobs in Alaska dropped by the widest margin since 2000 — 14.1% — in 2020.

FILE - The Olympic rings stand atop a sign at the entrance to the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on July 8, 2020. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, declared "squaw" to be a derogatory term and said she is taking steps to remove the term from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names. The popular California ski resort changed its name to Palisades Tahoe earlier this year. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)
Interior secretary seeks to rid U.S. of derogatory place names

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday formally declared… Continue reading

Most Read