Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to provide a short update on the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).
As I’m sure many of you are aware, today is the final day to provide public comments to the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) on the draft winter ferry schedule.
DOT&PF is accepting comments through midnight. You can submit written comments at https://publicinput.com/G6532, by email at 71585@PublicInput.com, or by fax at 907-228-6873. If you miss the deadline, please email me directly at Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov and I’ll be sure your ideas or concerns are considered for the final schedule.
The draft schedule can be viewed online at dot.alaska.gov/amhs/doc/AMHS_Winter_2022-23_Schedule_Packet.pdf.
Kodiak is currently slated for ferry service three times per week from October through December and again from March through April. Unfortunately, there is a service gap from Jan. 6 through Feb. 28 during the Tustumena’s annual overhaul period.
Once constructed, the replacement vessel Tustumena will reduce average maintenance periods and service gaps to Kodiak; however, the lack of available crew is the real issue. This year’s operating budget provides for additional sailings, but AMHS simply doesn’t have enough crew to be flexible with the schedule. This applies to shuffling crew around when there is an illness onboard a particular vessel, as well as AMHS’ ability to shift vessels to alternative routes during gaps in service.
On that note, the Tustumena’s Kodiak sailings that were scheduled for Thursday and today were canceled for just this reason. The vessel was operating at minimum crew levels required by the Coast Guard, there was an issue with one crewmember, and the sailing was canceled. DOT&PF is conducting an aggressive recruitment process, but I will stay extremely engaged on this issue as a top priority for Kodiak.
I am meeting with DOT&PF Commissioner Ryan Anderson this afternoon to go over the draft schedule’s alignment with school travel, options to plug Kodiak’s service gap with a few sailings, as well as recruitment and retention.
Congratulations to Air Station Kodiak and flight crew members LCDR John Filipowicz, LT Alex Martfeld, AST2 Robert Burke, and AMT1 Christian Sandberg for receiving the Coast Guard Foundation’s 2022 District 17 Award for their heroic and successful medivac off the F/V Patricia Lee in terrible weather conditions with low fuel. You, and all the brave service members of the U.S. Coast Guard, are the true heroes of Coastal Alaska. Way to go Kodiak and way to go Coast Guard!
As always, remember that I work for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any of these issues or anything else important to you and your family.
Representative Louise Stutes
Speaker of the House
Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, and Seldovia