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Update: Ferry LeConte ready to sail

The ferry LeConte docks in Skagway in 2009. The ship is in drydock to repair a broken bow thruster. (J Webber/Creative Commons)

The ferry LeConte docks in Skagway in 2009. The ship is in drydock to repair a broken bow thruster. (J Webber/Creative Commons)

Update: The ferry LeConte is ready to carry paying passengers again.

State transportation officials say the Juneau-based ship will leave Friday, Dec. 6, for Haines and Skagway. It will return to its home port later that day.

They say repairs on the ship’s bow thruster are complete. The LeConte went into drydock in Ketchikan for repairs.

The vessel has been off its schedule since the day before Thanksgiving.

Sailings go to Angoon and Tenakee on Saturday. Sunday is another Haines-Skagway run. And its Monday sailing is to Gustavus and Hoonah.

The bow thruster is scheduled to be replaced next winter.

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Earlier update: The ferry LeConte will return to service at least a day later than expected.

Alaska Marine Highway officials say Thursday sailings have been canceled due to ongoing bow-thruster repairs. That was the day it was expected to sail again.

The LeConte is scheduled to complete sea trials late Wednesday, Dec. 4.

If it passes, the ferry will then head back to Juneau, where it’s based.

Officials say service could begin Friday.

The vessel has been off its schedule since the day before Thanksgiving.

The LeConte is the only ferry serving Gustavus, Hoonah, Tenakee Springs and Angoon. It sails to Haines and Skagway, which are also served by the ferry Taku.

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Earlier report: The small ferry LeConte will remain out of service until Thursday.

The Alaska Marine Highway vessel has not sailed passenger runs since the day before Thanksgiving. The problem is a broken bow thruster, which maneuvers the front of the vessel during dockings.

Alaska Transportation Department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the LeConte is in drydock at the Ketchikan Shipyard.

“The repair plan is a little more extensive than maybe they originally thought before putting it in drydock. They realized there are some issues where they’re trying to solve the roots of the problem so this doesn’t recur before replacing the entire bow-thruster system,” he says.

Similar breakdowns last summer cancelled several days of sailings. The full thruster replacement is scheduled for the winter of 2014-2015.

The LeConte is the only vessel running to Gustavus, Hoonah, Tenakee Springs and Angoon. The Juneau-based ferry also sails to Haines and Skagway. The ferry Taku serves those communities too and added runs to help fill in the gaps.

An updated schedule is online at FerryAlaska.com. There’s a link on our website.

Woodrow says it’s no surprise the unit is having problems.

“The bow thruster is original to the ferry. And so it is an old part, or old unit,” he says.

The LeConte is nearly 40 years old. It can carry up to 35 vehicles and 300 passengers.

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