M/V Susitna Timeline:
2002 – Lew Madden comes up with idea for a ferry to connect Anchorage to Point MacKenzie in the Mat-Su Valley & pitches his idea to the Mat-Su Borough
2003 – MSB solicits proposals for the Knik Arm Ferry
Lockheed Martin wins with its proposal to “purpose-build” a transforming Catamaran with an eye towards also pitching the design to the US Navy for its landing craft program
The MSB pays Lockheed over $2.5 million for the design (funds initially are federal dollars)
2005 – Alaska Senator Ted Stevens gets involved and the US Navy partners with Lockheed to develop the M/V Susitna as an experimental ship (a prototype of a landing craft of the future)
2006 – Keel laying at Alaska Ship and Drydock (now called Vigor shipyard) in Ketchikan
Navy spends $78 million to build the ship
June 2010 – Ship Christening
MSB announces that the MV Susitna will remain in Ketchikan for the time being
MV Susitna is docked at Ward Cove, Ketchikan. The MSB pays tens of thousands per month in upkeep costs.
The Ferry never goes into service because of a lack of funds and landing terminals.
2013 – MSB puts ferry up for sale
and begins negotiating with the Federal Transit Administration which wants its money back. $12 million of FTA grant money (to promote mass transit) was used to build the ferry and ferry terminal building (on Point Mac side) and these items were never put into operation.
2015 – Philippines Red Cross (PRC) makes an offer to buy the ship
MSB tentatively accepts offer – but in Feb, 2015, during a huge rainstorm, the ferry is damaged. 3 of 4 engines needs to be replaced/repaired.
Feb 2016 – MV Susitna travels down to Seattle for the costly repairs
July 2016 – the MSB finalizes the sale of the ferry to the PRC for $1.75 million
March, 2017 – The Susitna is delivered to the PRC following a 15,000 mile voyage across the Pacific Ocean aboard a Harley Marine Services barge.
In the beginning, there was so much hope for the ferry:
But then, the MSB had to pay for all the ongoing costs for the Ferry which was never put into service:
Posting these links for posterity:
Below is a good article about the ship with a lot of historical information:
The genesis of the ship was not with the Navy but with the MSB itself. Many people think we obtained this ferry because it was a surplus Navy item and our U.S. Senators arranged for it to be given to the MSB to use as a ferry. Not true. An Alaskan named Lew Madden was the force behind this unique ship and it was built specifically for the MSB. The MSB is the entity that commissioned it. Here is an excerpt from the article:
The ship today:
Also – posting this for posterity:
The MSB never answered my questions about the $ 3.1 million in Repair Costs. Here is my email to various MSB staffers from May 16, 2018:
I never did receive these public records.
2/14/19 – Update on FTA money payback issue. This note was including in the newest CAFR which was posted today on the MSB’s website: