For the first time, an Alaska state ferry has been made in Alaska, as state officials celebrated its addition to the fleet this weekend.

The M/V Tazlina formally joined the Alaska Marine Highway System Saturday, according to a statement from Gov. Bill Walker’s office. First Lady Donna Walker broke a bottle of champagne over the ferry’s stern in Ketchikan, where both it and its sister ship were built. Her husband, as well as Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken, were on hand as well.

“I am so proud to christen the M/V Tazlina and welcome her into our fleet,” Donna Walker said in the statement. “Creating more opportunities to connect Alaskans at this critical juncture is good for our economy, for our visitors, and most importantly, for the Alaskans who rely on the Marine Highway as part of their daily lives. We’re so looking forward to seeing this Made-in-Alaska beauty out on the water.”

First Lady Donna Walker prepares to christen the Alaska state ferry M/V Tazlina in Ketchikan on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (Credit: Courtesy Gov. Bill Walker's office)

Like all of the marine highway’s ferries, the Tazlina is named after an Alaska glacier. The 280-foot vessel, which can carry 300 people and 53 vehicles, is larger and heavier than the M/V LeConte currently assigned to the northern Lynn Canal route it will serve.

The Tazlina’s construction, at the Vigor Shipyard in Ketchikan, took three years to complete. According to the governor’s office, building the two ferries has supported more than 100 year-round jobs in the Southeast Alaska community.

The Tazlina – “swift river” in Athabascan – was named in an essay contest by seventh grader Melea Voran from Port Alsworth Tanalian School. It is set to enter service in May.

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