Named after a glacier in Prince William Sound, the M/V Columbia is the largest vessel in the state ferry fleet and until 2004 was also the fastest. (Photo from AMHS Website)

With the state ferry Malaspina out of commission for six more weeks, the state ferry Columbia has rerouted to Sitka for two special events this spring.

Alaska Marine High Services staff have added two northbound sailings to accommodate Sitka-based passengers. The first, on March 26th, will carry basketball enthusiasts attending the Gold Medal Tournament in Juneau. The second, on April 9th, was added to accommodate passengers attending the Alaska Folk Festival.

There will be no other northbound ferry sailings departing Sitka in the month of April. The Columbia will also provide southbound sailing from Sitka once a week on Tuesdays.

The reason for this reduction in service is because the Malaspina will still be out of the water for six more weeks, due to delays in repairing the drydock at the Vigor Shipyard in Ketchikan. The Malaspina was scheduled to return to service on March 31st after receiving it’s annual overhaul and certification.

Sitka generally receives one northbound ferry and two southbound ferries per week in wintertime.

Aurah Landau, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities, told KCAW that all vessels in layup will be worked back into the schedule later in the spring.