Sunday, July 22, 2007



POSTED: 18 JULY 2007 - 12:00pm HST

SuperFerry sneaks into Nawiliwili Harbor

On 17 July 2007 the Honolulu Advertiser reported that,

"Hawaii Superferry's Alakai will begin making trial voyages from O'ahu to to Kaua'i this week as part of its crew and staff training, route familiarization, and final U.S. Coast Guard certification in preparation for the start of service later this summer.

Hawaii Superferry will host a community preview during which Kaua'i residents will be able to board the Alakai while it's docked at Nawiliwili Harbor. The date and time for the community preview will be announced once confirmed."

On 18 July 2007 The Garden Island News reported that,

"The Hawaii Superferry made an unannounced appearance yesterday afternoon at Nawiliwili Harbor as part of the final Coast Guard certification.

According to Terry O'Halloran, director of business development for the Superferry, this is the first of three scheduled trips to Kauai this week to train staff and familiarize them with the routes. Additional test runs are teatively set for Thursday and Saturday."

Editor's Note: Did these guys figure they had to sneak here for their first visit?



POSTED: 30 JUNE 2007 - 12:00pm HST

SuperFerry's own noise arguments are erroneous

Seen on the Superferry Website the Alakai vessel is approaching Honolulu, on Ohau, at this hour.

letter by Duane Erway to Hawaii Superferry on 29 June 2007

Hawaii Superferry
500 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 300
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attn: Terry O'Halloran

Dear Mr.O'Halloran:
Your letter of 17 April 2007 (Attachment 1) gives totally erroneous arguments that this new class of service will not be a problem for marine mammals with respect to underwater noise. In fact, the Hawaii Superferry is likely to generate noise levels that constitute Level B harassment * based on the sound spectrum of a similar ship (the Austal Euroferry).

I am therefore concerned about the possible financial risks to both Hawaii Superferry and the State of Hawaii unless Hawaii Superferry slows down to a safe speed, from the standpoint of noise.

I and many others are also concerned about injuries or deaths that constitute Level A harassment**. Scientists contacted in preparing this letter pointed out that fast ferries going up to 37 knots have caused injury or death to marine mammals throughout the world. See a brief summary of "Vessel Collisions with Whales: the Probability of Lethal Injury based on vessel Speed" by Vanderlaan and Taggart at:

Despite promises from Hawaii Superferry, the Superferry will have no effective way to avoid hitting whales at the speeds planned. This poses even greater financial risks to both Hawaii Superferry and the State of Hawaii in view of the large fines that can be imposed.

Level B Harassment from Noise*
marine mammels
Two problems show that you are misleading yourself and others on noise.

1) Meaningless Comparisons with tugs and container ships
Comparison to these particular ships does not tell us whether the new service will violate noise harassment rules of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 7 knot tug with a noise signature of 170 dB and a dominant tone at 1,000 Hz is probably violating the MMPA/ESA. If the Superferry is this bad, it will be violating the MMPA/ESA. (The barge operator needs to be cited and fined if the violation continues. The high frequency of the dominate tone, 1,000 Hz, is likely due to air from a cavitating propeller and the problem might be largely eliminated with redesign of the propeller. (See cavitation items in Ref 1 index.) The container ship putting out 181 dB at 7.7 to 33 Hz is probably not violating the MMPA/ESA since humpback hearing is very poor in this region. However, if the Superferry puts out this much noise at frequencies above 200 Hz it will quite likely be violating the MMPA/ESA because humpback hearing is estimated to be 1,000 times (30 dB) more sensitive at 200 to 2000 Hz than at 10 Hz, according to Navy documents. (See Ref 2.)

2) Meaningless Comparisons With the fast ferry analyzed by Dr PeterTyack
The sound spectrum for your sister ship, the EUROFERRY (Attachment 2) , bears no resemblance to the sound spectrum of the fast ferry considered by Dr. Tyack.
The Euroferry is almost identical to the Hawaii Superferry. It is of the same semi-swath design and is powered by the same type of propulsion system. Most of it's energy is in the 100 to 600 HZ range based on its sound spectrum. (See Ref. 3.) This is the range where humpback hearing is most sensitive and where humpbacks are most likely to be disturbed. Since the Euroferry closely resembles the Hawaii Superferry, its sound spectrum is likely to be quite similar. However, the Euroferry sound spectrum includes no source level calibration. Underwater noise measurements need to be made to determine the maximum speed the Superferry can travel without causing Level B harassment.

While Hawaii Superferry argues that it is not required to make noise measurements, this is information that any responsible operator should have before launching a new service in waters protected by the MMPA and ESA. Hawaii Superferry needs to know the maximum speed that the Superferry can travel without causing Level B harassment to protect Hawaii Superferry and the State of Hawaii.

Noise measurements can be made at no cost as the ferry journeys to Hawaii by contacting Blair Kipple - Naval Surface Warfare Center or Chris Gabriele - Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. See offer at:

This will take more time and require more fuel than a direct route from the Panama Canal to Hawaii. However, it is appropriate in view of your lack of credible evidence that the Superferry will not cause a noise problem for whales.

Level A Harassment
Injuring or killing marine mammals & sea turtles

Going 25 knots in shallow water and up to 37 knots in deep water will certainly cause injury and death to various species of marine mammals as fast ferries have elsewhere. See summary of "Lethal Injuries to Whales from High Speed Collisions" at

This calls for a "Take Permit" which Hawaii Superferry has so far avoided, totally ignoring the advice of the Humpback Whale Sanctuary Managers.
Hawaii Superferry argues wrongly in the Whale Avoidance Policy (WAP) that cruise ships are more likely to kill whales than the Superferry. Although cruise ships sometimes do kill whales, inter-island cruise ships in Hawaii are far less likely to do so than the Superferry for the following reasons:

1) The Superferry has two bows compared to a single bow for a cruise ship. This fact alone doubles the probability of a fatal collision. However, Hawaii Superferry argues in the WAP that the large "swept area" of a cruise ship greatly increases the collision probability relative to the Superferry - but Dr. Tepley demonstrated in his video "Will the Superferry Kill Humpback Whales" that the large swept area is of little significance because, unless a whale is struck directly by the bow, it will receive only a glancing blow and is likely to survive the collision. The video is available at Dr. Tepley's website at:

2) Even at it's slowest planned speed of 25 knots in areas where humpback whales are abundant, the Superferry will travel at a speed much faster than the actual speeds of inter-island cruise ships. This is demonstrated on the above web site at the link "Superferry vs. Cruise Ships". Dr. Tepley used the "Pride of the Aloha" as an example. He calculated an average speed of only 13.3 knots for a typical one-week trip between the islands. In contrast, he calculated an average speed of over 35 knots for the Superferry in the non-whale season. This is a striking difference in speeds.

I believe that Hawaii Superferry and Humpback Whale Sanctuary Managers look upon the WAP as a "work in progress" to be modified with experience to minimize the number of whale strikes as time goes on. If the WAP is a "work in progress", Humpback Whale Sanctuary Managers and the NMFS Branch Chief needs whale strike data on this new service to decide whether the representations in the WAP are correct and how the WAP needs to be modified to minimize injuries and death of marine mammals.

Direct data on whale strikes could be obtained by installing hydrophones and accelerometers on each of the superferry's bows to continuously record collisions and provide real time information to the Superferry Captain with continuous recordings sent to Hawaii Superferry headquarters, NMFS Branch Chief and Humpback Whale Sanctuary Managers at some agreed time interval. In addition continuously recording video cameras pointing back from the stern would confirm that a whale was actually struck and that the Superferry did not hit a log or some other form of debris.

Requests of Hawaii Superferry
I respectfully request Hawaii Superferry determine what speed you can safely travel without exhibiting Level B harassment from noise.

I respectfully request Hawaii Superferry work with Sanctuary Advisory Council to provide redundant sensors and video cameras to detect and record strikes of humpback whales.

I respectfully request Hawaii Superferry work with NMFS to provide redundant sensors and video cameras to detect and record strikes of monk seals, pilot whales, sperm whales and other marine mammals and sea turtles.

Duane Erway
P.O. Box 2807
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745

* Level B

harassment is defined as, "any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering."

** Level A
harassment is defined as, "any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild."

Ref. 1. Marine Mammals and Noise, Richardson et al., Academic Press,1995

Ref. 2. Final EIS for SURTASS LFS SONAR, January, 2001, Volume 1, page 1-21, Figure 1-4, "Marine Mammal Audiograms"

Ref. 3. "Fast ferries in the strait of Gibraltar. study of their potential impact on cetaceans populations.", In European Research on Cetaceans 15. Proc. 15 th Ann. Meeting European Cetacean Society, Rome, Italy 6-10 May 2001. E. Urquiola Pascual, et. al. FIG 3, Spectrums of fast ferry Euroferrys. Paper at:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hawaii Superferry foes eager to go to court, July 15 article

Hawaii Superferry foes eager to go to court

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawaii Superferry's first vessel is expected to start its interisland service no later than Sept. 5.

Photos by DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

This barge will be connected to the ferry as a ramp for cars to drive up.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Inside the ferry is a parking area for vehicles. Another lower deck can hold large trucks — such as those that might transport farm produce.

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With harbor improvements for the Hawaii Superferry reported to be on track, the only apparent threat to the start of the interisland ferry service is two pending court cases with hearings set for next month.

Both challenges involve questions about the need for adequate environmental impact studies on the publicly funded port projects for the new service, which will transport passengers and vehicles between Honolulu, Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island.

The first of two 350-foot catamarans is undergoing final Coast Guard approval and crew training. Although Hawaii Superferry officials have not announced a launch date, reservations are being taken for Sept. 5 and beyond.

The best hope for the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition to delay Superferry operations rests with an appeal of a July 2005 ruling by Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza.

Cardoza dismissed the groups' lawsuit, which argues that an environmental impact statement is necessary for the $40 million in harbor improvements.

The Hawai'i Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the appeal Aug. 23, with a decision to be issued at a later date. The ruling will likely be the final word, according to attorneys involved in the case.

"We've been waiting a long time to get an opportunity to try to get the trial court's decision reversed and it couldn't come any sooner. It's down to the wire," said Wailuku attorney Isaac Hall, who is representing the plaintiffs.

"I think the case on the law in the Hawai'i Supreme Court is a strong case. I'm hopeful on that one," he said. "If they did rule in our favor, they could send the matter back to the trial court and order preparation of an environmental impact statement. At that point ... (the ferry) would not be permitted to operate until that's done."

If that scenario plays out, it would take months or even years for such a report to be done.

Deputy attorney general William Wynhoff, who is representing the state Department of Transportation in the lawsuits, did not want to speculate on the possible consequences of a reversal but expressed confidence in the state's case.

"I don't think that's going to happen. We believe that Judge Cardoza's opinion will be found to be correct and will be upheld," he said.


Chapter 343 of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes, which establishes an environmental review system, states that "an environmental assessment shall be required for actions that propose the use of state or county lands or the use of state or county funds." The assessment determines whether projects are likely to have a significant effect on the environment, and if the answer is yes, a more thorough environmental impact statement is required.

If the environmental assessment determines a "finding of no significant impact," preparation of an EIS is not required.

The state has argued that barges, a ramp, fencing and utilities provided for the ferry at the Honolulu, Kahului, Nawiliwili and Kawaihae harbors are exempt from the EIS requirement.

But Hall said, "You can't look at the barges by themselves. You have to look at the projects that they facilitate," such as the ferry, and what the secondary and cumulative impacts of those projects are.

The push for a full-scale environmental review has come largely from Neighbor Island residents, who say the potential impacts include traffic congestion around the ports, rapid spread of invasive species, ferry collisions with humpback whales, and pressure on local fishing and recreational resources when people transport their vehicles to other islands.

Hawaii Superferry's vessel can carry more than 850 people and 250 vehicles, but the company projects an average load of 400 passengers and 110 vehicles.

Lucienne de Naie of Maui Tomorrow, a citizens' planning group, said advocates for an environmental review would be far less concerned if the ferry were to carry only passengers.

"We want to be clear that we are not trying to stop the Superferry. We are reasonable people who are concerned that our state has a long history of poorly planned and poorly thought-out projects that end up coming back to bite us," she said. "... The Superferry is one of these projects. It might be a great idea but it should be planned properly."


Unlike interisland barges, airlines or cruise ships, the Hawaii Superferry operation "is an entirely new concept. There is nothing arriving day in and day out discharging passengers and cars on different islands," she said. "It's a new function that is not happening on any of our islands."

Superferry officials say they have prepared detailed vehicle-inspection, traffic-flow and whale-avoidance programs to address the concerns.

In the second court case, the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Kahului Harbor Coalition and Friends of Haleakala National Park are disputing an environmental assessment for a group of projects contained in the Kahului Harbor Master Plan 2025.

The work, already completed and in use, includes a bridge over a drainage canal that will be used by the ferry.


In May, Maui Circuit Judge Joel August ruled that the Department of Transportation's environmental assessment of the master plan projects was inadequate with respect to potential traffic impacts. The judge scheduled an Aug. 2 hearing to determine remedies, which Hall said could include not allowing the ferry and others to use the bridge. The judge also may require DOT to do a traffic impact analysis, or limit the number of vehicles going in and out of the area.

How such remedies would affect ferry operations is uncertain.

Wynhoff said the plaintiffs are concerned only with the projects to be used by the ferry, which itself is not a part of the master plan, and that they are attempting to rehash arguments that failed in Cardoza's courtroom.

"These are not 'Superferry' improvements. These projects have been in the works since 2000, well before the Superferry was even a glimmer in anyone's eye," he said.

Despite the pending court cases, it's full-steam ahead as far as Hawaii Superferry officials are concerned.

"Everything is go," said Terry O'Halloran, director of business development for the company, which is not a party in the lawsuits.

The state has largely completed its improvements at the Honolulu, Maui and Kaua'i harbors, and Hawaii Superferry is finishing up tent structures for vehicle-inspection and passenger-waiting areas, lane striping and other work, O'Halloran said.

Floating steel barges built in China that will be used to load and offload vehicles were installed earlier this year at the Kahului and Honolulu harbors and are undergoing weight tests, said DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa. A movable hard ramp was put in at Nawiliwili.

O'Halloran said the company is satisfied with the improvements. "Everything is in place and the quality of the barges and ramp is excellent," he said.

Ferry service to Kawaihae on the Big Island is not due to start until 2009, and those port improvements will come later, although damage from the October earthquakes has changed plans.

Kawaihae's Pier 1 requires extensive repair and is no longer suitable for the ferry operations, Ishikawa said. A new Pier 4 for the ferry and other large vessels is being designed and will be built on a coral stockpile by January 2009, he said.

Both de Naie and Hall said there are no plans for new litigation should the court cases go against them, and there are no political options left. The ferry already survived failed attempts by a group of Neighbor Island lawmakers to withhold state spending on harbor improvements and to require an environmental impact statement. Resolutions passed by the three Neighbor Island councils urging an EIS review also failed to ground the ferry plan, as did public protests and petition campaigns.

But Rich Hoeppner, who founded People for the Preservation of Kaua'i as a result of the ferry controversy, said he's preparing to make a last stand.

"It isn't over until it's over. We can't do much until they come up with a start date, but in the meantime, there's only one thing they are going to understand and that's legal action," he said.

Hoeppner said he has hired noted California environmental law attorney Stephan Volker to pursue a lawsuit challenging Hawaii Superferry on the basis of federal endangered species and marine mammal protection laws.

Reach Christie Wilson at

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Supreme Court of Hawai'i to hear Superferry's Maui EIS issue

This story appeared as a letter to the editor in the Kaua'i Garden Island and speaks to the legal
issues going on involving the proposed Superferry.

Letter to the Editor

Is it accurate to imply Superferry is a done deal, despite two
lawsuits that may delay startup?

The Hawai'i Tribune-Herald did just that in its July 1 and 2
Superferry stories.

One lawsuit may have Superferry barred from Kahului Harbor until
environmental studies are done. Oral arguments before the Hawai'i
Supreme Court begin next month (August).

The other lawsuit yielded a ruling that the Environmental Assessment
for Kahului Harbor was inadequate. A hearing on the remedy is also set
for next month.

Why the silence on the lawsuits? Are journalistic standards being
watered down to keep advertising money flowing in?

Cory (Martha) Harden

P.O. Box 10265

Hilo, Occupied Hawai'i 96721

residence Mt. View 968-8965