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Ferry cancels sailings for repairs

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state ferry system has canceled the published sailings of the LeConte through Nov. 14 so a shipyard can make improvements required by the Coast Guard, state officials said Friday.

The ferry Aurora and a privately owned catamaran will take up some of the slack in Southeast routes.

The LeConte had been expected to resume sailings Friday following a five-day, $220,000 routine maintenance overhaul at the Ketchikan shipyard. But that has been delayed until Nov. 14 while additional electrical work is performed, said ferry system General Manager George Capacci.

''The switchboards are getting extreme scrutiny,'' Capacci said. The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report this fall that the ferry system probably contributed to a switchboard fire on the ferry Columbia in June 2000 by ineffectively maintaining and inspecting electrical switchboards.

Capacci said the LeConte switchboard had been running fine and was not part of the overhaul, but the Coast Guard said the switchboard was not up to standards. The new work includes putting up more brackets to support thick electrical cables that run from the generators to the switchboard.

To partly compensate for the loss of the LeConte, Allen Marine is running a 140-passenger catamaran to take passengers from Juneau to the Haines Bald Eagle Festival.

Meanwhile, the ferry system also has canceled all published sailings of the Aurora through Nov. 12 so it can serve on the LeConte run, which visits Hollis, Petersburg, Kake, Juneau, Hoonah, Tenakee, Angoon, Sitka, Ketchikan and Metlakatla.

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