SEPTEMBER 6, 2012 — Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough Assembly has voted to put the experimental ferry Susitna up for sale, though it says it is open to other suggestions.
As we reported here last month, the ferry has never entered service and has been costing the borough dearly as it remained docked at Ketchikan. Now, reports the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has balked at paying $600,000 to insure the vessel for one year.
Tuesday, in a meeting that took less than a half-hour, the assembly voted to pay $123,000 to insure the ferry for three months. It also voted to list the vessel for sale through a shipbroker and to put it on a federal registry of surplus equipment.
It also made it clear that it is still open to other options, which essentially seem to boil down to finding some other agency to take the ferry off the borough's hands.
Built at Alaska Ship & Drydock with the aid of funding from the Office of Naval Research, the Susitna has a catamaran mode for high speeds; a small-water-area-twin-hull (SWATH) mode for stability in high sea states; and a shallow-draft landing-craft mode that provides substantial buoyancy for maneuvering in shallow water. The ship is designed with a center "barge" that can be hydraulically raised and lowered, while the buoyancy of its catamaran hulls can be adjusted while under way. It is also the world's first ice-breaking twin-hulled vessel.