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State Looking for Bidders in Replacement for M/V/ Tustumena

The M/V Tustumena is scheduled to be replaced with a new vessel around 2027.
Courtesy KUCB /
The M/V Tustumena is scheduled to be replaced with a new vessel around 2027.

The Alaska Marine Highway System issued a request for proposals this week to replace the M/V Tustumena.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced a plan in December for a new ferry to replace the 58-year-old Tustumena. It’s funded in part by the Biden Administration’s federal infrastructure package, which passed Congress in November.

The replacement will be an ocean-class ferry, same as the Tustumena, but modern, bigger and more efficient. It’ll still be beefy enough to handle its route, making the run from Homer to Kodiak and out the Aleutian chain. The new ship will be able to carry 52 vehicles and 250 passengers, an increase of 40 percent from the Tusty.

It will serve throughout the Marine Highway system, covering routes for other vessels as they’re laid up of maintenance.

It’s estimated to cost $200 million to $250 million and will be competitively bid. This week’s RFP is the first phase of the project, for preconstruction services. That includes design validation, constructability review and cost estimation. There’s no estimate yet on when construction will begin but the ship is scheduled to start service around 2027.

In the meantime, the Tustumena is laid up in Seward until late spring for $8 million worth of extensive repairs and upgrades. The work is expected to allow the ship to stay in service for the next five years, until its replacement is ready.

The M/V Kennicott was supposed to cover for the Tustumena but it’s in for annual winter maintenance, as well. The Alaska Department of Transportation says that’s taking longer than expected. It was supposed to be ready by April, but that’s now pushed back a month.

The soonest ferry service will return to Homer is scheduled for April 30.

You can find the original story here.