Reconfiguring of the state ferry Hubbard for crew quarters should be done at the Ketchikan Shipyard — if at all possible.
The work to add the quarters will be paid for with Federal Highway Administration dollars, and the feds have their rules. But, Alaskans witnessed Alaska’s congressional delegation change the rules pertaining to cruise ship port of calls, which allowed for the resumption of that industry here in Southeast. Anything can be accomplished with motivation.
Ketchikan and the state likely are motivated.
State officials are about to seek bids for installation of the quarters, hopefully sufficiently soon to begin the work by November. It is expected to take eight to 10 months.
Three years ago, officials estimated the work’s cost at between $13 million and $15 million.
Outfitting the Alaska Marine Highway System ship with crew quarters will allow the ship to operate on routes with greater efficiency, saving dollars and time simultaneously.
The Hubbard’s sister ship, the Tazlina, also is without crew quarters and could be outfitted to increase its potential.
The ferry work should be done in Ketchikan. It not only resolves issues with the Hubbard, but it would breathe more life into a community that has suffered financially as a response to the pandemic. It would inject much-needed dollars into the First City.
And, if Ketchikan does better, so does Alaska as a whole.