SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


AMHS ferry breaks from mooring, grounds near Metlakatla
Ferry refloated


February 02, 2009

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) ferry Lituya, which was aground near Metlakatla Friday was refloated the same day.

The freight barge Cape Muzon and tug Ethan B pulled the vessel off the rocks at about 2:10 p.m. Friday, half an hour before high tide. After the vessel refloated, divers immediately conducted a survey of the vessel's hull and found no breaches. Both vessels towed the Lituya to Alaska Ship and Dry Dock in Ketchikan for repairs.

jpg The Lituya photo by Sol Guthrie

The 181-foot Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Lituya aground on Southeast Alaska's Scrub Island.
Photograph by Sol Guthrie ©2009

Senior representatives from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF), the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) and United States Coast Guard Sector Juneau closely supervised the salvage of the vessel. The group, which includes DOT&PF's Deputy Commissioner of Marine Operations, Jim Beedle, ADEC's State On-Scene Coordinator, Scot Tiernan, and U.S Coast Guard 17TH District Chief of Staff, Capt. Michael Inman, formed in Juneau within hours of the grounding to direct a unified response.

A Metlakatla Police Department officer conducting a routine patrol sometime after midnight Friday morning noticed that the 181-foot ferry was no longer at its berth. It had drifted aground on the east side of Scrub Island, approximately 1,200 yards from the Metlakatla ferry terminal. There were no passengers, crew, pets or vehicles aboard.

A team of marine inspectors from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan performed a damage assessment earlier Friday while the tide was out. The vessel's stern was hard aground on Scrub Island, and the vessel listed up to fifteen degrees to starboard. The inspectors found some damage to a keel cooler and the port stabilizer fin.

A small amount of fuel spilled into the water early Friday morning when the vessel began to list as the tide dropped. Subsequently, the Lituya's Master and Chief Engineer were able to board the vessel and cap the vents to prevent further leakage. Southeast Alaska Petroleum Resource Organization (SEAPRO) deployed containment boom around the existing sheen. The fuel has since dissipated.

jpg The 181-foot photo by Steve Shrum

The 181-foot Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Lituya reportedly broke free from its mooring early Friday morning, Jan. 30
Photograph by Steve Shrum ©2009

At about 10 a.m. Friday morning, SEAPRO transferred approximately 550 gallons of fuel from the vessel to a barge. The vessel had 7,000 gallons of number two diesel fuel on board when it grounded.

In addition to the Cape Muzon and the Ethan B., numerous vessels converged on scene to assist. These included a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Ketchikan, the Coast Guard Cutter Anthony Petit (also from Ketchikan), a response barge owned by SEAPRO, the Metlakatla-based fishing vessel Homeward Bound (which transported the Lituya's captain and chief engineer to the scene), and a vessel operated by the Metlakatla Police Department. A helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka flew over the area this morning.

The ferry is the smallest in the AMHS fleet, providing twice-daily service between Ketchikan and Metlakatla.

Displaced Lituya travelers can contact the AMHS Juneau Central Reservations Office at (907) 465-3941 or (800) 642-0066. Additionally, updated sailing information may be found at the AMHS website at


Source of News:

Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities


E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska