Ferry Columbia has electrical problems near Ketchikan

Posted: Wednesday, September 04, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state ferry Columbia experienced electrical problems near Ketchikan last weekend, the Alaska Marine Highway System said.

The ferry was adrift for about three minutes after its main electrical power supply failed at about 8 p.m. Saturday. The vessel was traveling between Prince Rupert, British Columbia and Ketchikan when the outage occurred.

The ship operated on emergency power for 50 minutes due to a problem with the switchboard. Passengers were sent to muster areas aboard the ship during the outage.

After a stop in Ketchikan, the Coast Guard cleared the ship to travel on to Juneau, with stops in Wrangell and Petersburg. The ferry Malaspina waited in Juneau to take the Columbia's 251 passengers to Haines and Skagway.

''It was a serious situation, which is why the Coast Guard investigates, but it wasn't an extremely dangerous situation,'' said Capt. George Capacci, Alaska Marine Highway general manager.

The Columbia left Bellingham, Wash., Friday and arrived in Juneau on Monday. It was back on schedule after repairs were made later Monday, Capacci said.

The Columbia, which is the largest vessel in the fleet, was out of service for half of last year for a $10 million stateroom renovation and repairs from a 2000 switchboard fire.

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