Vessel: TUSTUMENA VIN: 295172 Flag: United States Call-Sign: WNGW Year Built: 1964 Service: Passenger Length: 266 ft Breadth:59.2 ft Depth: 17.2
Gross Tonnage(GRT):2174.0 Net Tonnage(NRT):898.0 Gross Tonnage(GT ITC):4529
The "Trusty Tusty" back in 1988. Author's photo.
M/V Tustumena is a mainline ferry vessel for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Tustumena was constructed in 1963 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and refurbished in 1969 in San Francisco. As the only mainline ferry in South-central Alaska
and the Aleutian Chain, it principally runs between Kodiak, Seldovia, Port Lions, and Homer with Homer providing a road link to the other communities on the
Kenai Peninsula. The only interruptions from this schedule occur when making a voyage out the Aleutian Chain (the Aleutian Chain run consists of the
communities of Akutan, Chignik, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove, Sand Point, and Unalaska/Dutch Harbor) which the vessel undergoes eight times a year all
of which occur during the summer as winter weather becomes too dangerous.
Because of the exposed and unstable parts of Alaska it plies, the Tustumena is an accredited ocean-going vessel, a quality it shares exclusively with the
Kennicott. As such, the Tustumena is replaced by the M/V Kennicott when it undergoes annual maintenance.
The Tustumena is the smallest AMHS vessel to have cabins. The Tustumena's amenities include a full service dining room; cocktail lounge and bar; solarium;
forward, aft, movie, and business lounges; eight four-berth cabins and 18 two-berth cabins. The large black structure on the aft portion of the vessel is a car
elevator. It is used in all communities where there is not a dedicated ramp loading directly into the car deck. While the car elevator for the Tustumena is
exposed on the exterior, the Kennicott car elevator is located inside the vessel.
In the fall of 2012, the Tustumena went into scheduled maintenance at the dry-docks of Seward Alaska. Several found issues pushed her return from service
from the original May 29th to a planned July 23rd, leaving the state without a ship available to do her run. Given the age of the vessel, and her extended time
in dry-dock, the State is looking to find or build a replacement vessel, with design work to start in the fall of 2013 and construction of a replacement to begin as
early as 2015. The ferry finally returned to service in the fall of 2013.