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May sailings of Alaska state ferry Tustumena canceled for repairs

KODIAK — Sailings of the state ferry Tustumena will be canceled for the second time in as many years because of repair work that will keep it in the Ketchikan shipyard for 11 extra days, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Sailings from May 15 through May 26 have been canceled. An Alaska Marine Highway System calendar says the ferry had been scheduled to make stops in Kodiak, Sand Point, King Cove, Ouzinkie and other points during that time, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reports.

Jeremy Woodrow, spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said work will be done on the car deck after issues with steel came up during the vessel's annual maintenance and certification.

"This time around, there was discovery of steel on the car deck that was in need of repair, quite a bit of steel," Woodrow said. "The repairs were going to be extensive enough that it was going to require an extra couple of weeks in the shipyard in Ketchikan."

Last year, the Tustumena was kept in overhaul for an extra 15 days due to steel issues around the car deck and the hull and a water pipe.

"This is the second year in a row that this discovery work has delayed the ferry by at least one chain sailing, which is really unfortunate," Woodrow said. "We know people rely on those first couple sailings every year to get supplies out to those small communities. We try to do our best to get that (overhaul) schedule as close as possible."

The Tustumena was set to be part of this year's Kodiak Chamber of Commerce's Crab Festival, but the repairs coincide with the start of the event, which runs from May 26 to 30. The ferry Kennicott will take its place, said Stephanie DeLaGarza, Crab Festival manager and chamber community relations director.

"The carnival was booked on the Tustumena for the 25th, so their sailing was canceled, but they were able to get on the Kennicott," said DeLaGarza. "They will be here, and they will be coming several days earlier."

DeLaGarza said about one-fourth of the festival's vendors are scheduled to arrive on May 22 on the Kennicott.