- Associated Press - Sunday, May 7, 2017

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska Marine Highway System ferry will not depart in May as scheduled.

The Ketchikan Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/2qGs2pG ) Saturday that the Tustumena ferry was found with extensive steel defects in its engine room. The Alaska Marine Highway System is working with the U.S. Coast Guard on a repair plan to make the 53-year-old vessel safe again.

“The steel is tested for thickness, and when they go through and there are sections where it’s rusted or pitted and the steel is not of the desired thickness anymore, then it’s considered wasted steel and it has to be replaced,” said Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said in a phone interview Friday.

The ferry went in for a scheduled annual overhaul mid-March and was expected to return to service May 27.

The delay impacts communities in southwest Alaska and those along the Aleutian chain.

Officials said Friday that they are unsure how many passengers had booked their tickets for the ferry or whether there will be a backup ferry available.

They expect the Tustumena ferry will be ready to depart for Homer on July 18.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com


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