|Namesake:||Matanuska Glacier, Chugach Mountains|
|Owner:||Alaska Marine Highway System|
|Operator:||Alaska Marine Highway|
|Port of registry:||United States|
|Builder:||Puget Sound Bridge & Dry Dock, Seattle, Washington|
|Status:||in active service|
|Class and type:||Malaspina-class mainline ferry|
|Tonnage:||3,029 Domestic, 9,214 International[clarification needed]|
|Displacement:||5,569 long tons (5,658 t)|
|Length:||408 ft (124 m)|
|Beam:||74 ft (23 m)|
|Draft:||16 ft 11.63 in (5.1722 m)|
|Decks:||One vehicle deck, three passenger decks|
|Ramps:||Aft, port, and starboard ro-ro loading|
|Installed power:||Two 3,620 hp MaK diesel engines|
|Speed:||16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)|
In 1959, as Alaska became a state, voters approved $18 Million dollars in bonds to build its Marine Highway and associated harbor facilities. Philip F. Spaulding & Associates, was given the contract to design 4 vessels. Three of these ships would dramatically expand service to south-east Alaska, and a fourth ship initiated service to south-central Alaska and the Aleutian chain. The third of the south-east sister ships built was the Matanuska constructed in 1963 by Puget Sound Bridge & Dry Dock in Seattle, Washington. The Matanuska was lengthened by 56 feet in 1978 at the Willamette Iron & Shipbuilding Company in Portland Oregon.
On May 7, 2012, the MV Matanuska collided with the processing plant dock for Ocean Beauty Seafoods' in Petersburg, Alaska. Damage was extensive to the building and dock, while the ship received only "dents...above the waterline". There were no injuries in on the dock, the plant, or on the Matanuska. After an inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, she was deemed seaworthy and continued on to other ports to pick up passengers, though was two hours behind schedule. The cause of the crash was determined to be conning errors made by the master, who attempted to use a known countercurrent to slow the ship on the approach in to port, standard procedure by masters for that approach. However, the countercurrent was not present that day, resulting in a higher than expected approach speed. The Matanuska was carrying 60 passengers at the time of the crash, but no one was hurt.
The Matanuska is a mainline ferry, serving the larger communities of the Alaskan Panhandle (such as Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Sitka). Matanuska’s route spans the entirety of the Alaskan inside passage, often beginning in Prince Rupert, British Columbia or Bellingham, Washington north to Skagway. Matanuska is not ocean-certified, and therefore cannot run across the gulf of Alaska or out the Aleutian Chain.
The ship's amenities include a hot-food cafeteria; lounge; solarium; forward, aft, movie, and business lounges; 4 four-berth cabins; 23 three-berth cabins; and 80 two-berth cabins.