"This is obviously a tough decision for us in that the summer season is an important revenue generating period and the Columbia, being on the Bellingham run, is a big part of those revenues," said AMHS General Manager John Falvey.
The Columbia was originally scheduled to enter a federal overhaul on Sept. 23 and would have been in revenue service up until that date. On Monday, a piston rod in the starboard engine failed causing the engine to be shut down. The AMHS has a replacement rod for the engine, but new bearings would also have to be specially manufactured and those require up to five weeks to complete.
The Columbia will sit in Ketchikan until Aug. 27, when it will begin transiting to a shipyard for its overhaul. The shipyard will be chosen through the state's normal bidding process.
The AMHS is attempting to accommodate customers with prior reservations on the Columbia through the four other ships that currently travel outside of Alaska. Customers with prior reservations on the Columbia are being asked to stay in contact with their closest AMHS terminal or call (800) 642-0066 for updates.