Tustumena returns to service Aug. 15

Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Alaska Marine Highway System’s M/V Tustumena will be back in service on Aug. 15, to begin its regular service in Homer and Seldovia before heading out to the Aleutian Chain communities.

The Tustumena is scheduled to sail out of the Ketchikan shipyard on or about Aug. 11, Captain John Falvey, general manager of the AMHS, told Laura Tanis in an interview for the Aleutian East Borough’s “In the Loop” online newsletter.

“We think we’ve got her in good shape now,” Falvey said. “She’s going to last a few more years until the new (replacement) vessel is built.”

The Tustumena, now 53 years old, was originally scheduled to return to service on May 27, but the discovery of extensive steel wastage in the engine room pushed that date back to the middle of summer.

Residents of Homer, Seldovia, Kodiak, the Aleutians East Borough and others on the Aleutian Chain were told that the Tustumena’s return to service would be delayed until July 18 to do necessary repairs. One June 5, a second notice went out stating that more repair work was needed and service would resume on Aug. 15.

While the delay has been hard on affected communities, neither AMHS or the U.S, Coast guard would allow a ship to sail unless it’s certified and safe, Falvey said.

“The repairs done on the Tustumena were extensive, and when the ship sails from Ketchikan, it will have passed all its USCG inspections, and it will be considered ready for passenger service,” he said. “I feel very good about that.”