The Hubbard ferry will continue day service between Juneau, Skagway and Haines as scheduled this week, after top officials said late last week the vessel might be taken out of service due to staffing issues, an Alaska Marine Highway System spokesperson said Monday.
The possibility of suspending service was raised Friday by AMHS Director Craig Tornga during a meeting of the ferry system’s operations board. He said another licensed engineer was needed aboard AMHS’ newest vessel, but there were difficulties finding such a person.
That problem has now been resolved, Sam Dapcevich, a spokesperson for the ferry system, said Monday afternoon.
“The Hubbard is not going to be tied up this week,” he said.
The ferry system has been experiencing a severe shortage of employees for months, primarily in higher-skilled positions, that is currently keeping some of its nine vessels out of service.
The Hubbard is also experiencing what Keith Hillard, a captain aboard the vessel, called “growing pains” in comments made Friday to the operations board. Among the problems, he said, “are definitely some safety things that need to be addressed in the next yard period.”
Dapcevich said on Monday the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which oversees AMHS, “can unequivocally state that the Hubbard is safe.” He said the specific issues are related to a recent U.S. Coast Guard inspection that resulted in an “835 deficiency form” citing items needing repair.
“In regard to that it is pretty common to have some bugs to work out when a ship has sat idle and/or undergone significant modifications, and we’re addressing a few dried-out seals and corroded parts to remedy,” he said. “The 835 is for wiring upgrades and repairs that the crew are resolving right now.”
The Hubbard is in port on Mondays, so repairs often occur on those days, Dapcevich said. He said the vessel is scheduled to be out of service between Oct. 1 to Dec. 1 for yard work, and its next overhaul is scheduled for March 15 of next year.
“We don’t have the summer 2024 schedule yet, so I’m unable to provide its return-to-service date,” he said.
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at email@example.com or (907) 957-2306.