Ferry Delayed

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2001

(Juneau-AP) -- Repairs to the state ferry Columbia are about a month behind schedule.

Alaska Ship and Drydock in Ketchikan has been working since November to replace the ship's electrical system, which caught fire last June. Passenger cabins are being improved at the same time.

George Capacci (Kuh-PAH-chee), the ferry system's general manager, says the Columbia isn't expected to be back in service before July 4th, and crew members will need time to get up to speed on the ship's new systems. The contract with the shipyard called for the work to be done by May 26th.

Capacci says the magnitude of the work is greater than originally anticipated.

Doug Ward, development director at the shipyard in Ketchikan, says about 150 of 200 employees are working on the 10 (m) million dollar Columbia project.

Ward says putting modern equipment in a 30-year-old ship has been an engineering challenge.

To respond to the delays, the marine highway system is shifting the ferry Malaspina to the Bellingham route during June and making other scheduling changes.

Capacci says officials will address contract issues, including possible late penalties, later.

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