The Department of Transportation put out a press release with the following headline:
Tustumena Return to Service Delayed Indefinitely,The Tustumena has been in repair since November 2012. We're four months shy of a year now.
Schedule to be Reconfigured to Meet Community Needs
All this brought to mind our visit to the Rosie The Riveter National Park in Richmond, California earlier this year. It's a Historical Park in honor of the World War II ship builders who put together whole ships in a week or less sometimes!
From a long essay at a National Park Service site on WWII ship building practices, we learn:
"During World War I, steel shipbuilding followed tradition, calling for riveted hulls with each vessel custom built on site, a labor intensive, relatively slow process. In 1917, for example, a typical steel vessel took 12 to 14 months from keel-laying to delivery. At the peak of production in World War II, the work could be accomplished in four to six days." (emphasis added)From another Park Service page:
The Liberty Ship Robert E. Perry was assembled in less than five days as a part of a special competition among shipyards; but by 1944 it was only taking the astonishingly brief time of a little over two weeks to assemble a Liberty ship by standard methods. Henry Kaiser and his workers applied mass assembly line techniques to building the ships. This production line technique, bringing pre-made parts together, moving them into place with huge cranes and having them welded together by "Rosies" (actually "Wendy the Welders" here in the shipyards), allowed unskilled laborers to do repetitive jobs requiring relatively little training to accomplish. This not only increased the speed of construction, but also the size of the mobilization effort, and in doing so, opened up jobs to women and minorities.
I understand that regulations for the ships and for the workers were a lot less stringent in those days, but if they could build a whole ship in five days, they ought to be able to repair one in less than a year.
Is it because this administration is lax in oversight of its contractors? Is Seward Ship’s Drydock just not competent for a job like this? Or that ferry service is a low priority? Or perhaps maintenance was delayed so long that there were lots of unexpected problems as the Fairbanks News Miner reported earlier this year:
"The 50-year-old ship went in for maintenance in November, and it turned out to be in worse shape than thought. It will now be in the shipyard until June, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported. "
I'm sure there are other possibilities and probably more than just one applies.
I'm using the WW II shipbuilding times just to give this situation some perspective. If the right people really cared, this could have been done a long time ago. Meanwhile the people out on the Aleutian Chain are still waiting for their ferry service.