Alaska News

2 more virus cases reported among crew of Alaska ferry now delayed by engine trouble in Ketchikan

The state ferry Matanuska remained docked in Ketchikan on Monday, delayed first by COVID-19 testing and then by engine trouble.

Two crew members tested positive for the virus last week. Two more tested positive Sunday after departing Washington state and arriving in Ketchikan.

There are 34 passengers aboard. None are considered close contacts of the infected crew, said state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman Sam Dapcevich.

Two engineering crew members on the ferry tested positive for COVID-19 last week, prompting an 11-hour delay.

Follow-up tests identified a positive case among the crew Sunday after the ferry arrived in Ketchikan, Dapcevich said in a message. “Out of an abundance of caution, Matanuska was held in Ketchikan while the entire crew was tested, and one additional positive case among the crew was identified.”

The two crew members will isolate in their homes, one in Ketchikan and one in Juneau, he said. The Juneau-based crew member will remain in quarantine aboard the ferry until the vessel arrives there.

[New Alaska ferry plan will use federal aid to help dodge last-minute schedule cuts]

The Matanuska left Bellingham on Friday and arrived in Ketchikan early Sunday morning.

The ferry, which was supposed to depart Ketchikan at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, was delayed because of a mechanical issue with the starboard main engine, Dapcevich wrote in a message. There was no estimated departure time as of Monday afternoon.

The Matanuska broke down last year and remained out of service the month of February, when it was expected to be the only operating mainline ferry -- large ships that make multi-day trips -- in an aging fleet already disrupted by mechanical problems.

The ferry has also had mechanical problems several times this year.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.

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