Photo: Office of the Governor/Alaska
On Aug. 11, Alaska’s First Lady Donna Walker (above at left) officially christened the M/V Tazlina ferry by breaking a bottle of champagne on its stern; a ship that is expected to join the Alaska Marine Highway fleet in May 2019, serving the Northern Lynn Canal.
The state’s marine highway system currently extends across 3,500 miles of coastline and provides service to over 30 communities, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
The Tazlina is 280 feet long, seats 300 people, carries up to 53 vehicles, and will be the first of two “Alaska Class” to enter the fleet; a designation that refers to it being “made in Alaska” as it was built at the Vigor Shipyard in Ketchikan.
[Side note: Six years ago, Transportation TV conducted one of its first “on location” segments in Alaska, detailing the history of the state’s ferry system.]
The Alaska DOT&PF said that Tazlina – which means “Swift River” in the Ahtna Athabascan native tribal language – is longer, wider, deeper, and heavier than the ship it is replacing, the M/V LeConte, and so will be able to better navigate through stronger winds and choppier seas.
“Getting the Tazlina into service is an important part of improving access for all those who ride the marine highway, whether it’s to see family, get to the hospital, or go to work,” noted Alaska Governor Bill Walker, in a statement. “We are so proud to say this ship was made in Alaska, and we’re looking forward to watching her serve Alaska for decades to come.”