Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 12:18 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mat-Su puts fast ferry up for sale

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — The Mat-Su Borough's fast ferry is going up for sale. The $80 million ferry Susitna was supposed to transport commuters from Anchorage to the Valley, but that never happened.

In fact, the Anchorage Daily News says the ferry has never docked at the borough or sailed in Cook Inlet. And, Anchorage and the borough do not have the special docks needed for a ferry that could carry vehicles.

In the meantime, the borough has been responsible for the cost of maintaining the ferry at $88,000 a month.

Borough assembly member Warren Keogh proposed listing the ship with a broker to sell or offering it as surplus property on the federal register.

"In my view we need to place this vessel for sale and we need to be doing more than one thing at a time," Keogh said at a recent meeting to discuss the ferry. "The intent of the motion is not to exclude other options."

Borough planner Emerson Krueger is working with an Australian ship broker to sell the ferry now docked in Ketchikan. Price is not being discussed yet.

If the ferry isn't used for a public purpose, the Federal Transit Administration would expect to be repaid the $13 million or so it put into studies, design, planning and a ferry building. The federal agency has frozen another $6.7 million until the borough can demonstrate the ability to move ahead with ferry landings.

The borough was supposed to collect data on the performance of the Susitna for five years for the Office of Naval Research.

The ferry was conceived as a prototype for a new kind of military assault vessel. The idea was to turn it over to the borough for use as a ferry instead of ending up as scrap.