New York shipbuilder low bidder for Alaska fast ferries

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A New York shipbuilder is the low bidder for a state contract to build two fast ferries at a cost of $67.9 million, state transportation officials said.

Derecktor Shipyards of New York won the bid, offering to build the vessels for $2.6 million more than the state had advertised, state officials said Friday.

Transportation Commissioner Joe Perkins said the state will consider it anyway. The state failed to attract a successful bidder in April.

Alaska transportation officials want to build two high-speed catamarans to run between Juneau and Sitka and Prince William Sound. Both ferries are expected to be in service by 2004.

The contract would require two 250-passenger ferries that travel up to 32 knots and carry 35 large vehicles.

Transportation officials ultimately want four new fast ferries to allow it to retire the ferries Aurora, Bartlett and LeConte, Perkins said.

The two additional ferries would operate on routes between Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Juneau, Perkins said.

But funding has only been secured for one ferry and another $10.4 million was authorized by the Legislature for a second, Perkins said.

Funding for a third ferry is in the state Senate as part of a $400 million transportation bond package. Lawmakers dropped funding for a fourth ferry, he said.

If the Derecktor bid meets state specifications, the contract could be awarded in 45 days, Perkins said. It would also give the company an option to build the two additional ferries.

Derecktor has experience building high-speed passenger ferries and other vessels including 270-foot Coast Guard cutters, said Gavin Higgins, general manager of the company.

The next bid was for $85.1 million from Austal USA, an Australian company with a shipyard in Alabama.

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