Mat-Su Borough Decides Not to Dry Dock Ferry

The embattled motor vehicle Susitna was a dream of previous Mat-Su Borough administrations.


by Michele White

PALMER- The embattled motor vehicle Susitna was a dream of previous Mat-Su Borough administrations.

It was built with federal dollars as a twin hull, high speed navy pro-type.

Without a place to land, and a hefty price tag to maintain, secure and insure it, the Mat-Su Borough just wants to cut its losses.

"Our intention was originally to sell it," says Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey, "If somebody came down to take it out, to look at it, take it out for a run, examine the boat, then we'd be ready.  We've had full security on that, protecting the investment."

On August 20th, the Mat-Su Borough voted to dry-dock it.

But, on September 5th, it reversed course and directed Moosey to sell it or put it in service because the cost of dry-docking it- $1.9 million- and the risk of damage to the ship was too high.

"The real cost of putting it back in the water and getting it back into running condition to have it re- commissioned, I''ve heard estimates of $4 million to $10 million.  So, there's high risk, there's high cost, and it's fundamentally a bad idea.

In the meantime, the Susitna will be in wet lay-up- still in the water in Ward Cove but without as large of a crew.  

The Mat-Su Borough currently pays $75 thousand- including insurance- every month to keep the Susitna in ready-to-go status.

Putting the Susitna in service is still an option. 

"The Municipality of Aanchorage has looked at it. They have not told us 'no,' although there are some challenges, and so, we'll keep continue to work with them.  We'll also work with a couple of private entities to provide that service, one being the Alaska Railroad that has some property that we could be accessible on ship creek.

Sell it or sail it. Moosey hopes to resolve the Susitna issue altogether and not have to pay back the $12.5 million in grant money to the Federal Transit Administration.


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