More Hubbard cancellations possible
September 14, 2023
A spokesperson says more cancellations are "very possible" for the Upper Lynn Canal ferry service as the Alaska Marine Highway System scrambles to hire more crew.
The Hubbard's normal sailing was canceled on Monday and Tuesday after the Hubbard lost an engineer.
"It could take a while, we don't know for sure right now. We're doing everything we can to fill the role," said Sam Dapcevich, a spokesperson for AMHS.
Dapcevich said the engineer had worked five months straight and needed a break. The Hubbard normally sails the Upper Lynn Canal six days a week, and engineers are often required to work maintenance on the off days, in addition to manning the engine room during sailings.
"We had a person who had been on the ship for about five months who was ready to take a break - we can't force them to stay forever," said Dapcevich.
Dapcevich said the Hubbard was scrambling to fill the licensed engineer position, but AMHS has faced a severe crew shortfall for years. He said the crew shortages don't just apply to the Hubbard, which is the main ferry that services the Upper Lynn Canal since it was put into service in May.
"It is very possible there could be more cancellations - and that's not just for the Hubbard," he said.
Dapcevich said there's "a lot going into our recruitment efforts" including doing exit interviews to identify reasons staff are leaving. More than ten positions were listed on the system's website as of Tuesday, including three engineering positions.
According to the Alaska Beacon, 60% of ferry jobs were vacant as of May this year.
The ferry system has been warning for months that sailings could be canceled because of crew shortages.
The ferry service said it has contacted passengers to refund or reschedule tickets for passengers who were scheduled.
As of Wednesday, Dapcevich said he didn't have an update about Hubbard sailings for the rest of the week.