Byline: Associated Press
PALMER, Alaska (AP) — An unwanted $80 million ice-breaking ferry owned by an Alaska borough has attracted one bidder to buy it — but the bid was only for $751,000.
The bid was the only one entered by a March 29 deadline set up by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, which has been trying to get rid of the 200-foot ferry. The borough doesn’t have to accept the offer, The Anchorage Daily News reported.
The vessel was completed in 2011 and born out of a partnership between the borough, which wanted a ferry, and the Navy, which wanted a fast military landing craft.
Named Susitna, the ferry was built as a Navy prototype that would be owned and operated by the borough. The project was funded mainly with Department of Defense earmarks wedged into the federal budget by then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
The borough has no suitable docks or a workable business plan to operate the vessel as a ferry between Anchorage and Port MacKenzie in the Mat-Su. With monthly costs to the borough averaging $75,000 for insurance, maintenance, fuel, docking fees and other expenses, the Borough Assembly has directed employees to find the most economical way to get rid of it.
While the borough solicited buyers, it also launched a parallel track to give away the boat to a government organization that met federal requirements. Of those that expressed interest, proposals by Los Angeles County and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still being evaluated by the Federal Transit Administration.