While the M/V Tustumena sits in the shipyard for another two months, residents of southwest Alaska have another option for cargo service.
The Seattle-based Coastal Transportation company has offered to carry cargo along the Tustumena’s route while the ferry undergoes unexpected repairs.
“It doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it definitely helps to alleviate some of the crisis,” said Meadow Bailey of the Alaska Department of Transportation.
The Tustumena's delay has canceled several sailings this spring and summer, upsetting customers’ plans from Homer to Kodiak to Unalaska.
While Coastal Transportation will carry cargo for those communities on an “as able” basis, passengers won’t be able to hitch a ride.
Bailey said the company isn’t authorized to carry travelers, and the Alaska Marine Highway System can’t spare another ferry.
“We looked at trying to bring on a different ship," she said. "But we just couldn’t fill that need without creating a domino effect that would affect even more people.”
Passengers have to wait until the Tustumena returns to service on July 18.
In the meantime, residents of southwest Alaska can contact the Marine Highway System (907-465-3941) or Coastal Transportation (1-800-544-2580) to arrange cargo service at the same rate as the ferry.