Floating cruise dock bound for Skagway breaks apart during bad weather

There is some concern for the upcoming cruise season in Skagway, Alaska. A new cruise dock float, which was scheduled to be installed at Skagway’s Ore Dock, has broken up in transit near Ketchikan.

Ore Dock under construction at Skagway
Ore Dock under construction at Skagway (Photo courtesy of Port of Skagway Facebook Page)

Skagway’s Borough Manager Brad Ryan says it broke up into three pieces on the water on its final leg of the journey. It had traveled all the way from the manufacturer in Anacortes, WA.

“The barge was being held in the Ketchikan area, waiting for the weather to improve,” Ryan said. He said the towing resumed earlier this week, and then, somehow, it broke up. The pieces were successfully towed back to Ketchikan. The float measures 500 by 50 feet

Dock Float is ‘Fixable’

Ryan believes the float can be fixed, but it will require the manufacture of new flanges and a pipe. “We’re working under a timeframe that we think we can still get it on before the first cruise ship.”

The final two pieces of the ore loader superstructure
The final two pieces of the ore loader superstructure (Photo courtesy of Port of Skagway Facebook Page)

A special assembly meeting took place on Thursday to discuss the issue. Ryan says it is still unclear how much money and time it will take to repair the damage, although the insurance companies are already liaising with officials.

Mayor Sam Bass acknowledged the municipality is racing against the clock to get the float in place by spring. “We will work to develop alternative options if that becomes necessary.”

The cruise season kicks off in Skagway in late April and ramps up in May with dozens of cruise ship calls during the month. Skagway’s Ore Dock is close to the Railroad Dock, which has experienced its own challenges recently.

Norwegian Sun at Skagway
Norwegian Sun at Skagway (Photo courtesy of Port of Skagway Facebook Page)

The Railroad Dock has been partially closed off over the past two years due to the danger of rockslides. The town last year received FEMA funding for permanent mitigation measures and hopes to be back to full cruise ship capacity when the Alaska cruise season begins.

As well as the Ore and Railroad Docks, cruise ships also call at the nearby Broadway Dock. All three are within easy reach of Skagway’s historic downtown.

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