Infamous MV Susitna Finally Put to Use in the Philippines

Mike Schuler
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April 6, 2017

MV Susitna. Photo credit: Philippine Red Cross

The Philippine Red Cross has taken delivery of their newest and largest humanitarian and and disaster response ship, the infamous MV Susitna.

The Susitna was delivered to the PCG late last month following a 15,000 mile voyage across the Pacific Ocean aboard a Harley Marine Services barge.

The story of the Susitna, not to mention the vessel itself, is an interesting one. gCaptain once called the Susitna the world’s most ridiculous ship because of its high cost and uselessness.

The 195-foot vessel was constructed in 2010 at a rumored cost of $80 million at the request of the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which at the time was looking to test new designs that could someday work as military vessels. The original plan called for the Susitna to be donated to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough where she would be used to provide ferry service between Anchorage and Port Mackenzie as the ONR assessed the design. But lack of funds and landing terminals prevented the Susitna from ever entering service, so she ended up spending the majority of her early life tied to pier – all while costing taxpayers millions in fees and upkeep.

Susitna ferry

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough finally got its big break in 2015 when it reached a deal to sell the Susitna to the Philippine Red Cross for $1.75 million – a fraction of what the borough was originally hoping to get for it. But as they say the two happiest days of boat owners’ life are the day they buy and the day they sell the boat.

The Susitna is actually pretty interesting, albeit extremely unique. It was designed by Guido Perla and Associates to be capable of carrying 129 passengers, plus 20 vehicles or one tractor trailer rig. The design incorporates a Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) and lift technology that allows her to change from SWATH mode to barge mode by lowering or raising its center deck. She is also built with an ice strengthened hull and is even beachable.

susitna ferry
MV Susitna.

The PRC now plans to use the Susitna as a rapid transport and landing vessel for Red Cross’ emergency units, providing relief supply transport, medical deployement, sea rescue and mass evacuation, humanitarian logistics, command post operations, and humanitarian education and training. And we wish them the best of luck with their new ship.

The PRC is even holding an internet naming contest for the vessel, but given the good things they are doing and the whole Boaty McBoatface thing, we’re not going to go there.

Now here’s a video of the Susitna in action in the Philippines:

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