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

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Three people wanted on warrants

Terrace RCMP asking for public’s help

Belgian man linked as possible missing kayaker in Nass River

Family pleads on Facebook for more information

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

B.C., Alaska officials fail to reach ferry deal

Alaska Marine Highway System ferry service to Prince Rupert is scheduled to end Sept. 30

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized, BC SPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

Most Read