AMHS revises ferry Columbia's
return to service date
May 16, 2008
In order to meet U.S. Coast Guard safety standards and receive
a certificate of inspection (COI) from Coast Guard Marine Safety
Office Portland, Oregon officials, the motor vessel Columbia
will remain out of the Alaska Marine Highway System service until
May 21 according to the system's general manager.
"We're in complete partnership with the Coast Guard and
the shipyard workers to have a lightweight survey finished and
receive the required COI before Columbia sets sail to Alaska
with passengers and vehicles," said Capt. John Falvey, General
Manager, AMHS. The required Coast Guard deadweight testing is
designed to determine the ship's lightweight condition. Prior
to commencing the test, all personnel and portable equipment
and machinery must be removed from Columbia. After the testing
is completed, the vessel is reloaded.
"Obviously, all of the movement of shipyard workers, crew
and equipment off and onto the vessel takes time and creates
time delays, setting Columbia slightly off schedule," Falvey
said. "We know Columbia is safe, but at the same time, we're
not about to ever put a price tag on passenger safety aboard
any of Alaska's ferries."
Falvey said that shipyard workers worked throughout the night
Thursday, and that Coast Guard officials agreed to continue their
inspection process through the weekend to expedite the COI process.
During the schedule revision, the motor vessel Matanuska will
remain on the Bellingham run for an additional week, and its
Prince Rupert, British Columbia passenger and vehicle traffic
will be transferred to other vessels.
"Columbia's passengers won't be affected by this unexpected
delay, but it will hamper travel plans for Matanuska riders who
made reservations between May 17th and the 21st," said newly
appointed Deputy Commissioner of Marine Operations Jim Beedle.
"At this point it's very important that those folks check
with our reservations representatives to allow us to rearrange
their itinerary to suit their travel needs."
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