The Alaska Marine Highway System ferries will no longer be running to Prince Rupert as of Oct. 1 due to a failure to secure an RCMP presence for unarmed American border personal in Prince Rupert. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP)

Prince Rupert loses Alaska ferry service over armed security issue

On Oct. 1, the Alaska Marine Highway System will no longer provide service from Ketchikan to Rupert

A failure to secure an armed RCMP presence to protect American personnel has lead to the closure of the Ketchikan-Prince Rupert ferry service.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) announced that service between the two cities will be officially closed as of Oct. 1.

In March, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents notified AMHS that they needed to secure a Canadian law enforcement presence for U.S. ferries calling on Prince Rupert.

“All avenues for local law enforcement were pursued, but AMHS was not able to secure the staff necessary to fulfill this requirement. The new requirement specifies a Canadian law enforcement presence with the ability to make arrests in Canada, which is not a duty that AMHS staff are able to perform,” AMHS stated in their press release.

Despite the announcement, Prince Rupert’s mayor, Lee Brain, remains optimistic that it will only be a temporary closure.

The issue is a multi-jurisdiction, multi-stakeholder problem that spans two different countries. Mayor Brain said there are some solutions up in the air but he could not provide any specifications until he gets all parties in one room.

“I don’t believe this is the end of the ferry service to Prince Rupert. I believe this issue can be solved. The demand for cross-border tourism and potential trade opportunities continue to be at the forefront of this conversation. I believe now is the time to solve this issue to ensure long term ferry service between our two nations,” Brain stated in an email.

Brain will be heading up to Juneau the week of Sept. 16 to meet with officials in the Governor’s Office and Alaska’s Department of Transportation.

The U.S. government cannot employ American guards on Canadian soil, requiring a need for the armed RCMP officers. The U.S. Government said they will cover the costs for the extra staff.

“The City of Prince Rupert explored all options to provide armed support to customs for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Unfortunately, given our remote location and existing police capacity, it would have necessitated hiring additional full time police officers, an expense that neither the Alaska Marine Highway System or the City are able to support financially,” Brain stated.

READ MORE: Alaska ferry service may have to pay armed RCMP at Prince Rupert terminal

Other monetary issues are also plaguing the ferry service to Prince Rupert.

Early in August, Alaska’s governor, Mike Dunleavy, signed a bill finalizing the state’s budget for the fiscal year including a $5 million cut to AMHS. The route from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert was identified as one of the potential services to close.

In addition, there are jurisdiction issues regarding structural upgrades needed for the AMHS dock in Prince Rupert in order to continue service.

In regard to the budget constrains, Brain stated no decision has been made as to which routes will be cut, however potential solutions have been identified to help with operational costs for the Prince Rupert ferry route. He is also looking to solve the issues surrounding the Buy American program that prevent the city from buying local for these upgrades.

READ MORE: Severe budget cuts could mean ending service to the only Canadian stop on the Alaska Marine Highway


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Regional District says goodbye to Houston Rural director Rob Newell

Newell passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 74

Royals fall short to Lakers in five-set nailbiter

After winning the first two sets, the Royals dropped the last three 25-22, 25-20 and 15-13

Pipeline camp workers to buy locally, TC Energy says

As preparations for TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project pick up… Continue reading

Village eyes new mass communication system

A new mass communication system might provide emergency information more easily for… Continue reading

Chamber to get electronic locks

The Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce building will soon get… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Holiday outfits on a budget

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

B.C.’s largest catholic archdiocese names 9 clergymen in sex abuse report; probes ongoing

Vancouver Archdioces presides over 443,000 parishoners in B.C.

Smudging in B.C. classroom did not affect Christian family’s faith, says school district lawyer

Lawyers make closing arguments in a Port Alberni case about the Indigenous cultural practice

Canadian Forces member charged with possessing magic mushrooms in Comox

Master Cpl. Joshua Alexander, with the 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, facing two drug related charges

Most B.C. residents, including those hit by 2018 storms, not prepared for outages: report

Create an emergency kit, BC Hydro says, and report all outages or downed lines

Study finds microplastics in all remote Arctic beluga whales tested

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north

Services needed in B.C. for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease patients: doctor, advocates

More patients are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at an earlier age

65-million-year-old triceratops fossil arrives in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a Triceratops prosus

B.C. widow sues health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Most Read