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

Town supports Legion’s application for liquor licence amendment

Council is reccommending the LCRB approve the Legion’s application for a Liquor Primary Licence

Council passes two readings of second-stage housing bylaws

The bylaws, if adopted, will make way for 12 Northern Society for Domestic Peace townhouses

Goodacre Place: a partial success story

Supportive housing development improves homelessness situation, but demand for more remains high

Smithers student wants solution to recycling moratorium

Smithers and Telkwa suspended curbside recycling following a May 9 fire that destroyed the depot

Telkwa Fire Department applies for grant money

Fire chief is hoping to add some new equipment as well as new boots and helmets to the department

VIDEO: UBC exchange students offered $1,000 to help with leaving Hong Kong

The university said 31 of its students were attending four universities in Hong Kong

Teen developed ‘popcorn lung’ due to vaping: Ontario doctors

Boy went from being in perfect health to being on life support after just five months

B.C. judge tosses ‘N’ driver’s claim he was just using phone to decline his mom’s call

Distracted driving laws are more strict for Class 7, or Novice drivers, the judge noted

Woman calls 911 to say she was late for train, asks Ontario police for ‘emergency ride’

Peel Regional Police received more than 180,000 improper calls so far this year

It could take you 218 years to save up for a house in this B.C. neighbourhood

It would take 27 years in the most affordable city in the Lower Mainland

‘Actors can play any roles’: Debate over ‘colour-blind’ casting after Victoria lawsuit

Tenyjah Indra McKenna filed a complaint over racially-motivated casting

Infants more vulnerable to measles than previously thought: Canadian study

Babies typically don’t receive the measles vaccine until they are 12 months old

Shatner, Obomsawin among 39 inductees to Order of Canada today

Shatner is being given one of Canada’s highest civilian honours for his 60-year career

Most Read