Keegan Krantz, 30, and his dog Nootka on the loading ramp to the FMV Matanuska on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Keegan Krantz, 30, and his dog Nootka on the loading ramp to the FMV Matanuska on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

6 days and counting: Engine woes strands Anchorage-bound ferry passengers in Juneau

Passengers were stranded by ferry repairs and are being housed on board the ship

Twenty-six passengers remain stranded in Juneau, living aboard the MV Matanuska, after that ship’s sailings were canceled Saturday due to engine troubles.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities hired a private catamaran to transport 160 passengers, mostly high school students, to other locations in Southeast, but passengers bound for Anchorage are on their own.

But it’s not all bad.

“The biggest problem is I’m eating too much,” said Gerald Stroebele, an Anchorage resident on his way back from a road trip in the Lower 48.

The crew of the Matanuska have opened the galley for the stranded passengers and given them cabins for accommodation, all free of charge. Additionally, DOT refunded passengers’ tickets.

DOT was not yet able to say how much it would cost the state to house the passengers and keep the Matanuska’s systems running while it was undergoing repairs, according to Sam Dapcevich, public information officer for the department.

“They’ve shown us wonderful hospitality,” Stroebele said of the crew. “They couldn’t be treating us better.”

But these passengers are still waiting. The Matanuska has two new engines that are in need of repairs and parts are currently being flown in, according to Dapcevich. The Matanuska is scheduled to resume service on Feb. 8, he said.

Gerald Stroebele, in front of the FMV Matanuska at Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Gerald Stroebele, in front of the FMV Matanuska at Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

The engine trouble was caused by a leak which then contaminated oil in one of the engine’s gear systems, Dapcevich said. The engines are under warranty, which means the state won’t have to pay for the repairs, he said.

Passengers are allowed to drive their vehicles on and off the ferry, allowing for travel into Juneau, and some passengers have elected to find other means of transport.

Keegan Krantz, who’s moving from Craig to Palmer, said he’s putting his truck on a barge and shipping it to Haines.

“I don’t want to wait here another week,” Krantz said. Krantz and some of the passengers are traveling with pets which adds additional complications. He can put his truck on a barge but there’s no passengers allowed, so he and his dog will have to fly to Haines.

“Cost of the barge is comparable to the ferry, but that doesn’t cover the cost for me (and the dog),” he said.

Most passengers were trying to make light of the situation, Krantz said, but were frustrated. According to Stoebele, there were several military members traveling on the ferries who had upcoming reporting dates. He said at least one had contacted her commanding officer to inform them of the situation.

Passengers onboard the FMV Matanuska at Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Passengers onboard the FMV Matanuska at Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on Thursday. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

“It’s totally ridiculous that legislators are coming down here, and the ferries aren’t running,” Krantz said. “I understand there’s not a lot of money going around right now, but the ferries are not just for Southeast.”

Stroebele too, was critical of the way the ferry system has been handled.

“That’s the only ship that’s running,” Stroebele said. “That’s the real story. That’s the real tragedy.”

Another ship — the MV Lituya — is still actually running right now ,making runs between Ketchikan and Metlakatla, according to Dapcevich. But that is currently the only vessel the Alaska Marine Highway System has running, he said.

In an email, Dapcevich said the Matanuska’s mechanical issue was unavoidable and that staff were taking every step to assist passengers and get the ship back in service.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A rally planned to include Trump is scheduled to happen in Anchorage on July 9.  (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey File)
Trump to rally for Palin, Dunleavy, Tshibaka in Anchorage

Former President Donald Trump plans to attend a rally in Alaska next week.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, June 30, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Courtesy Photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Dunleavy signs budget

PFD of about $3,200, $400 million in vetoes to Legislature-approved items among declared highlights

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

Most Read