Governor Sean Parnell announced Wednesday that additional ferry runs will be added between Homer and Unalaska in May 2010 and again in 2011. The governor directed the changes which will double the usual schedule to the Aleutian chain for that time of year.
The Tustumena will depart from Homer twice in May, stopping in Kodiak, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, False Pass, Akutan, and Unalaska.
The deputy commissioner of the Alaska Marine Highway System is Jim Beedle. He said that the governor is responding to comments made during the most recent state-wide hearing on the ferry schedule.
— (Ferry Change 1 "The Governor’s office … The Kennicott.")
The state’s largest seafood processor is in Akutan, and the second-largest is in Unalaska.
Those communities requested twice-a-month service for the summer which Beedle says is too costly. Most of the expense comes from the cost of operating the larger Kennicott which will be used to cover the Whittier, Kodiak, Homer, and Seldovia run while the Tustemena is out on the chain. Beedle says that the two runs in May is a less expensive compromise.
— (Ferry Change 2 "They’re all gearing … gear out there.")
A benefit to Kodiak is that the Kennicott is expected to offer a boost to the Crab Festival.
— (Ferry Change 3 "Our scheduler has … rides to Kodiak.")
The 382-foot Kennicott can carry up to 499 passengers and 80 vehicles, while the 296-foot Tustumena carries 174 passengers and 36 vehicles.
The schedule change will also bring extra ferry service for Southeast communities since the Kennicott will make the Ketchikan-Juneau-Whittier run before the Homer-Seldovia-Kodiak trip.
The specific dates of the new May schedule will be announced the first week of January.