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State Sues Manufacturer of Fast Ferries

March 26, 2010 - Anchorage, Alaska - On behalf of the Alaska Marine Highway System, the State of Alaska today filed a lawsuit against the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the fast ferries Fairweather and Chenega. The suit also named the companies responsible for the vessels' propulsion systems.

"Since we accepted delivery of the vessels in 2004 and 2005, the propulsion systems have been subject to recurrent problems," said Jim Beedle, deputy commissioner of marine operations with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. "Given the ongoing problems and an approaching deadline for filing suit, the state has been compelled to take this unresolved issue to court. However, we have not ruled out further negotiations, if we can get a favorable result for Alaska."

Typical of the problems encountered with the vessels was the massive overhaul required on the Fairweather beginning in February 2006 at Ketchikan Ship and Drydock. All four diesel engines had hairline cracks in their steel sleeves, and there were additional problems with bull gears, shafts and bearings. The initial in-service date was pushed back by months.

The lawsuit is against Robert E. Derecktor, Inc., the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the ferries, and against MTU Friedrichshafen, GmbH and MTU Detroit Diesel, Inc., the entities responsible for the vessels' propulsion systems.

"We're protecting the fiscal integrity of the state," said Attorney General Dan Sullivan. "We received a faulty product, and we intend to see that the citizens and taxpayers of Alaska are appropriately compensated."

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