The Fairweather pulls up to the Auke Bay Terminal in June 2014.

The Fairweather pulls up to the Auke Bay Terminal in June 2014.

State accepts bids for 2 fast ferries that faced struggles

The state Department of Transportation issued a public notice of the bidding process Thursday.

Associated Press

Alaska is redoubling efforts to sell two fast ferries by accepting sealed bids.

The state Department of Transportation issued a public notice of the bidding process Thursday, CoastAlaska reported Monday.

The state set a minimum reserve price for each ship but does not plan to reveal the amount until the bids are unsealed Dec. 15.

Prospective buyers are required to post a refundable $25,000 deposit with each bid for the FVF Chenega and FVF Fairweather.

The agency told lawmakers earlier this year that the cost of mooring both fast ferries in Ketchikan’s private Ward Cove facility is $566,016 annually.

The boats were brought into service about 15 years ago with great fanfare, but a defect with their innovative, lightweight engines caused them to crack. The state sued the manufacturer in 2010, and both ferries eventually received conventional engines.

The 235-foot vessels could travel about twice as fast as the rest of the fleet, going from Juneau to Sitka in about four hours. But they burned far more fuel than the conventional fleet and struggled in rough, winter conditions.

The Chenega was taken out of service in 2015, followed by the Fairweather last year.

The department determined the ferries were too expensive to operate because of high fuel use, complicated machinery and expensive maintenance costs, regional spokesman Sam Dapcevich said.

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