State and shipyard in talks over Columbia delays

Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Alaska Ship and Drydock has asked the state to forgive $2.8 million in compensation for delays in returning the ferry Columbia to service after a fire.

The financially strapped Ketchikan shipyard argued it was not completely to blame for the ship returning to service nearly two months behind schedule.

The Columbia underwent a $10.5 million refurbishment project at the Ketchikan shipyard earlier this year that included repairs after a fire and additional upgrades.

The ship was scheduled to return to service May 26 but was not delivered until July 19. Under federal rules, the shipyard is responsible for about $4 million in damages and delays, the state contends.

''Essentially our position is that the state has some responsibility for the delay,'' said Doug Ward, with Alaska Ship and Drydock.

Ward cited problems with the state specifications as well as changes made by the state during the project.

A state contractor didn't finish removing asbestos until July 14, days before the vessel re-entered service, the company said.

The state has not received a formal claim from the company, said Bob Doll, Southeast regional director for the state Department of Transportation.

''We're considering the presentation. There was a lively discussion about the validity of various assertions made by ASD,'' Doll said.

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