AMHS seeks licensed, documented mariners

The Aurora arrives dockside at Valdez to pick up Cordova High basketball teams, cheerleaders, Pep Band, and fans following another Valdez Valentine’s Tournament. Due to no ferry this winter, will this 42-year tradition end? Dick Shellhorn photo

Alaska Marine Highway System officials say they are continuing to struggle with crew shortages, and that both Washington State and British Columbia ferries are experiencing the same challenges, with a nationwide dearth of licensed and documented mariners.

Officials with the statewide ferry system said they began an aggressive hiring campaign last fall in Alaska and beyond and are working closely with the Department of Labor to fill positions across the board. The state agency is also in the process of seeking a professional recruitment contractor to assist with filing the needed positions, including key shoreside positions, they said.

To date AMHS has added 36 new entry-level passenger service positions with another 106 working to complete necessary documentation, they said.

AMHS is also working closely with U.S. and Canadian Customs on the return of service in Prince Rupert.

The agency has multiple tasks to complete before being approved to resume service, but is hopeful for a May 1 return to service date, they said.