It’s good to hear that the Inter-Island Ferry Authority will be able to once again assist the Alaska Marine Highway System with service between Ketchikan and Metlakatla later this month while the AMHS vessel that usually serves the route is undergoing maintenence.

An IFA vessel will be sailing one roundtrip between Ketchikan and Metlakatla each day on Jan. 14, Jan. 15, Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, according to an IFA announcement.

We’re accustomed to seeing the AMHS ferry Lituya on the route, and we’re pleased that AMHS has continued to provide service on this important link five days a week.

Yet every vessel needs regular maintenence. We’re pleased that the Ketchikan Shipyard operated by Vigor Alaska stands ready to provide maintenence services for the Lituya and other AMHS ferries, which also means that the ferries don’t have to spend a lot of extra time in transit to shipyards elsewhere.

In other circumstances, the maintenence period for the Lituya might have resulted in no service on the Metlakatla-Ketchikan route. The IFA’s ability and willingness to provide interim service is a true benefit to both communities.

It also should be noted that the Alaska Marine Highway System was able to return the favor, so to speak, this past October when both of the IFA’s ferries were out of service.

AMHS was able to schedule the Lituya for two roundtrip sailings per week between Ketchikan and the Prince of Wales Island port of Hollis during October, enabling a vital marine transportation link to remain at least partially open during that time.

We appreciate the IFA and AMHS working together to keep southern Southeast Alaska moving.