KETCHIKAN — The Alaska Marine Highway System plans to put its new ferry Tazlina into service in waters in the southeast in May.
The ferry system announced last week that the 280-foot vessel will operate in Lynn Canal, replacing the ferry Fairweather that connects Juneau, Haines and Skagway, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.
The vessel built in Ketchikan can accommodate 300 passengers and 53 vehicles. The 235-foot Fairweather could hold 210 passengers and 31 vehicles.
The state’s other new ferry, the Hubbard, is expected to be completed by the summer or fall, said Aurah Landau, a spokesperson for the system. The system plans for the Hubbard to begin operating in the Prince William Sound in southern Alaska in 2020, replacing the ferry Aurora.
The state has scrapped plans to install crew quarters on the new vessels. Adding crew quarters would have broadened the ferries service roles but would have cost about $27 million.
The system does plan to add forward side doors to the new ferries, costing about $3 million each. The forward starboard door will be installed on the Hubbard during its ongoing construction, Landau said.
When the Hubbard is rolled out, it will replace the Tazlina in Lynn Canal as the door is added, Landau said.
Changes to ferry deployments and retirements will save the state about $1 million that would have been spent on an annual overhaul for the Fairweather and about $10 million for engine repairs on the 235-foot Aurora, the ferry system said.
“By putting the Alaska Class Ferries into service sooner, we can replace vessels earlier and save on maintenance costs,” said John MacKinnon, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.
• This is an Associated Press report.