Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The process is underway to replace the 57-year-old state ferry Tustumena.
Sam Dapcevich is with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities says they have issued a request for proposal for a replacement vessel.
The RFP asks for proposals from qualified companies to provide pre-construction services.
The cost of construction is estimated at between $200 to $250 million. It's expected to begin service around 2027.
The new vessel will be capable of operating across the Gulf of Alaska and will provide service to Homer, Kodiak, and Unalaska along with all current marine highway ports of call along the route. Dapcevich says the state is designing and building the ship to be able to work throughout Southeast Alaska adding flexibility and efficiency to the fleet. He adds that this approach will be particularly useful when other ferries are offline.
The new ship's vehicle and passenger capacity would increase by 40 percent over the current vessel. Passenger capacity will go from 160 to 250 and vehicle capacity from 34 to 52.
Dapcevich said the plan is to apply the hull design for this vessel to other mainliners in the future in an attempt to come up with a one size fits all design.
Due to the age of the ship, annual repairs now reach around $2 Million.
Marine Highway vessels are named after Alaska glaciers. Dapcevich says a contest among Alaska students to name the new ferry will be launched closer to the time that vessel comes online.