KODIAK — The state of Alaska has picked the guiding hand behind its new Tustumena-class ferry.
Naval engineering firm Glosten and Associates of Seattle will guide the state as it plans a new oceangoing ferry to replace the 49-year-old ferry Tustumena. The news was announced this week at a meeting of the state’s ferry advisory board in Anchorage.
“They’re a very big, capable (firm) and they’re going to start the process for us,” Capt. John Falvey of the ferry system told the board.
Glosten designed the M/V Kennicott, the state’s newest oceangoing ferry, in the 1990s, and Falvey said there were plenty of bidders eager to design a new ferry expected to Alaska another half-century.
The state is prepared to spend up to $10 million designing the Tustumena, money that has been reserved from the state’s vessel replacement fund.
According to documents presented at Wednesday’s meeting, the design team will visit ferry terminals in December, then hold public meetings in January. The state plans to hold meetings in Homer, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor, but Unalaska Mayor Shirley Marquardt, a member of the advisory board, asked whether the state could also hold a meeting in King Cove, one of the Alaska Peninsula communities the Tustumena serves.
In February, the state expects to release its reconnaissance report identifying environmental issues, and a design study report will come by June.
The design study report will recommend a particular vessel design, and the state may proceed with procurement at that point.
On Wednesday, the ferry system unveiled the preliminary design of a day boat ferry intended to work in the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska. By this time next year, officials said, they hope to be at a similar stage with the new Tustumena.
The specifications of the new Tustumena include a minimum length of 296 feet. In order to fit within some docks on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak archipelago, the ship cannot be longer than 325 feet.
The new ship is expected to have a cruising speed of 14 knots and the ability to carry 174 passengers and 36 vehicles.
In other business Wednesday, the ferry board learned that repairs to the Whittier ferry loading ramp should be complete by the middle of this month. The ramp has been out of service since August, when a contractor damaged the ramp during renovations.
With the Whittier ramp out of service, Cordova residents en route to Anchorage have been forced to disembark in Valdez, then drive several hundred miles to their destination.