Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kauai opposition to ferry still strong

The Honolulu Advertiser    Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kauai opposition to ferry still strong

By Diana Leone,   Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E - About 120 Kaua'i residents met with
state Department of Transportation officials
yesterday and most opposed the return of the
Hawaii Superferry to the Garden Isle.

The Superferry began service between O'ahu and
Kaua'i in August but was soon turned back by
protesters on surfboards and in kayaks who
blocked the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor.

More than six months later, opposition remains
strong here, at least from those who attended two
meetings yesterday at Kaua'i Community College.

The speakers were concerned about the safety of
whales and other marine life, the transport of
invasive species from island to island, traffic
and crime.

"I can guarantee you if the ferry comes back to
Kaua'i it will never get to its dock in
Nawiliwili Harbor," said Rich Hoeppner, chairman
of People for the Preservation of Kaua'i, a group
opposed to the ferry.

Although speakers were passionate in their
comments to Mike Formby, deputy DOT director for
harbors, and other state officials, they didn't
have much positive to say.

If there were Superferry supporters among the 40
or so people in the first meeting, they didn't
testify. A night meeting with about 80 people
attending also drew mostly negative comments.

Superferry operations between O'ahu and Maui were
halted last year after the state Supreme Court
ruled that the state had to conduct an
environmental assessment of the ferry's impact
before it could sail. The Legislature later met
in a special session and passed a law that
allowed the Superferry to operate while the
environmental study is conducted.

The company's 350-foot, high-speed catamaran
operated for several weeks in December and
January but was put in drydock for maintenance
and repairs on Feb. 13 and is expected to return
to service April 23.

The two meetings yesterday were intended to give
Kaua'i residents an opportunity to ask questions
about the environmental assessment the state is
conducting with the help of consultant Belt

At one meeting, Sandra Herndon said she was among
Kaua'i residents who petitioned Gov. Linda Lingle
for an environmental study regarding the
Superferry two years ago.

"What I'd like to ask now, if it is possible for
Belt Collins to deliver an independent study,"
Herndon said, adding that the company seemed to
be "intertwined with the Superferry corporation."

The economic model that assumes Hawai'i will need
more large harbor space "to continue to import
all its food and goods" will crumble under the
rising price of oil, said architect and planner
Juan Wilson, representing the organization Island

The state needs improvements in small harbors for
fishermen and small boats, "not a
40,000-horsepower, 40 mph football field," Wilson

Superferry President and CEO John Garibaldi, who
was not at the meeting, said yesterday in a phone
interview that repairs of the Alakai are going
well and he remains "cautiously optimistic" that
the vessel will resume service to Maui on April
23 as planned. He declined to say how much the
repairs cost but said much of the cost has been
borne by the ship's maker.

Garibaldi said although the company hopes
eventually to resume service to Kaua'i, it won't
even broach that subject for months at soonest.
He said the company is focused on resuming
service to Maui.

State and Belt Collins officials didn't respond
to speaker comments at the meeting, which is part
of a series being held on every island this month.

They said they will use ideas gathered from the
testimony in focusing on the environmental study,
Formby said. The draft environmental study is
expected in October, which will be followed by a
formal 45-day comment period and a final document
in spring 2009, he said.

Reach Diana Leone at

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin    Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ferry furor flares

By Tom Finnegan

PUHI, Kauai » Kauai opponents will not be
welcoming the Hawaii Superferry any time soon.

Yesterday about 150 people came to Kauai
Community College for two public meetings held as
part of the environmental impact study being done
by contractor Belt Collins. Every speaker said
the Superferry's ship, Alakai, should not return
until the study is finished.

And a vast number of speakers, both in the
afternoon and evening sessions, said that no
matter what Belt Collins issues as part of its
report, the company and the state's credibility
will always be questioned, and the ship will not
be welcome.

"This is a sham," said Rich Hoeppner. "I
guarantee you if the ferry comes to Kauai, that
ferry will never get back to its dock at

Hoeppner, part of the Thousand Friends of Kauai
group that sued the Superferry and the state over
the environmental study process, said that
hundreds have told him they will swim out to
block the ship's return, despite repeated threats
from the U.S. Coast Guard and the state.

"That's not a threat," he said between the meetings. "That's a guarantee."

Other speakers directly addressed the process.

Anne Ponohu said that if Belt Collins found the
Superferry would pose no significant impact to
the state, a federal lawsuit would be coming.

"We will be watching you closely," she added.
"The impacts on Kauai are obvious and well

Many others addressed concerns that state and
county taxpayers will wind up picking up the tab
for trash cleanup, new bathrooms, security,
invasive species prevention, traffic mitigation
and other issues.

Local attorney Daniel Hempey, who represents the
Thousand Friends of Kauai, worried that the ship
could bring infectious diseases and put strains
on Kauai's hospitals because of all the
seasickness passengers have previously
experienced. And, who, Hempey asked, will keep
passengers from getting drunk aboard the ship and
driving around Kauai?

Ken Taylor asked why the study presents only two
possible actions: not allowing harbor
improvements, and letting the Superferry use them.

Other alternatives should be proposed, including
whether another type of vessel should be used, or
whether different ports should be fitted to
accommodate the Alakai.

Those questions are the point of the meetings,
said Dennis Chun, a member of the Inter-island
Ferry Oversight Task Force.

"This is a time where you can bring your
concerns, and that is the contractor's job,"
added Chun, a University of Hawaii professor and
one of the many residents who paddled out on a
surfboard to block the Superferry in August.

© 1996-2008 The Honolulu Star-Bulletin |


Monday, March 17, 2008

HI Superferry: U.S.S. Superferry? by Joan Conrow

HI Superferry: U.S.S. Superferry? by Joan Conrow

Honolulu Weekly
U.S.S. Superferry?
Unwitting Hawaii residents may be getting a military ship in civilian camo
By Joan Conrow / 1-16-2008

Hawaii Superferry — now running (weather permitting) between Oahu and Maui, thanks to a gubernatorial and legislative override of a State Supreme Court ruling — has been officially touted as a way to bring ohana together and provide a transportation alternative.

However, in light of the U. S. Navy's current push to quickly expand its fleet with a new type of fast and versatile vessel, Hawaii Superferry (HSF) — chaired by former Navy Secretary and 9/11 Commission member John F. Lehman —may also be using Hawaiian waters to demonstrate the performance of its Austal USA catamaran, the Alakai, and prove its efficacy for military purposes.

At stake are U.S. defense contracts potentially worth billions, and possible sales to foreign navies, according to a defense industry consultant in San Diego who asked not to be named. The Superferry is being tested in Hawaii to qualify the design for military contracts and also for sale to the navies of India and Indonesia, the consultant said.

The Navy is seeking to develop two new types of craft: the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). Both boats are intended to be smaller, faster and more versatile than existing naval ships. They are specifically designed to operate in both the open ocean and the shallow near-shore, or littoral, waters of nations the Pentagon views as emerging threats, such as China.

The Superferry is very similar in design and specifications to the Sea Fighter, the only LCS prototype that has been launched and gone through sea trials, and the Westpac Express, one of two demonstration JHSV currently in use. Among the Superferry's virtues is its versatility, which makes it a contender for both the LCS and JHSV initiatives. U.S. Navy and Army representatives have toured the Alakai throughout its construction as part of the ongoing evaluation of potential JHSV platforms, according to a June 2007 announcement about HSF's sea trials on Austal USA's website.

Lehman already has spoken publicly about the company's plans to run military equipment and personnel from Oahu to the Big Island in much the same manner that the Westpac Express ferry serves the Marine Corps in the Western Pacific. The logistical plan was touted as a faster and cheaper way for soldiers stationed on Oahu to train on the Big Island when the Stryker Brigade comes to Hawaii. "The Superferry is strong enough to take Stryker vehicles," Lehman told Pacific Business News (PBN) in March 2005. "HSF provided the Army with a cost analysis and expects to negotiate a long-term contract," PBN reported.

On January 7 of this year, HSF carried Hawaii National Guard heavy equipment to Maui for removal of storm debris. While providing passenger and cargo service between Oahu and Maui, the Superferry's owners are able to conduct sea trials aimed at demonstrating the high-speed craft's endurance and performance in rough open seas and littoral waters. Its need to quickly accrue time in the water could explain why HSF plans to offer a second daily run to Maui, even though it's presently carrying only a third of the passenger load it projected, according to documents filed with the state Public Utilities Commission.

While using Hawaiian waters as a proving ground, HSF has been able to develop and test its prototype vessel with little financial risk to investors, thanks to a federally guaranteed loan of $143 million that covers much of the $190 million cost to build the two fast ferries, and $40 million in state support for related harbor projects.

Meanwhile, the state's controversial decision to allow the ferry to run while a full Environmental Impact Statement is being conducted — a process that could take up to two years — effectively ensured the vessel would be operational in time to compete for a JHSV design contract that will be awarded later this year, as well as for LCS design contracts two years later ."In an accelerated procurement environment, it would give [Congressional appropriations] committees great comfort in granting money for something up and running," said an Oahu-based legislative insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The procurement environment is indeed heating up. Over the next five years, the Navy plans to buy eight JHSV, which also will be used by the Army and Marine Corps. Not envisioned as combat ships, these crafts would be used to quickly transport several hundred troops and their equipment across the open sea. They're also expected to be able to operate in shallow waters and access harbors without relying on tugboats, piers and cargo cranes.

"Will it [the JHSV] have other abilities? Of course. But the high-speed transportation requirement is the heart of this program," Capt. Patricia M. Sudol, the Navy's program manager for support ships, boats and craft, and the officer in charge of the Navy-led joint acquisition program, told the Weekly in an interview. Sudol said the Navy envisions the JHSV as a modified version of existing commercial high-speed ship designs, which means it won't have to meet the rigid construction and self-defense standards required for warships. For that reason, the vessels are projected to be relatively low cost, with the first one targeted at $150 and the remaining seven at $130 million each. One firm will be chosen to produce all eight JHSV, she said.

The Navy also wants to acquire 55 LCS by 2013, a goal that is already three years behind schedule, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Lara Bollinger said in a press release. These vessels are intended to operate close to shore, hunting submarines and destroying underwater mines. They also could serve as offshore platforms from which to launch helicopter attacks and other missions on land, and recover the inflatable combat boats used by special operations forces.

The LCS program is a key element of the Navy's strategy to expand its fleet. A Sept. 13, 2007 article in The Washington Post quotes Navy spokesman Capt. John T. Schofield as saying the ships are "needed to fill critical, urgent war-fighting gaps."

But cost overruns are mounting on the two LCS prototype vessels currently under construction, and performance problems plague the Sea Fighter, the only demonstration LCS that has hit the water.

The LCS prototypes, by General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin and initially slated to cost $220 million each, now are expected to come in at a combined total of more than $600 million. Early last year the Navy asked Congress to allow the tab for the second two ships to go as high as $460 million each. But the Senate appropriations committee balked and cut funding for the program, citing delays, design changes and cost overruns of more than 50 percent. "The Navy's littoral combat ship has suffered from significant cost increases and has had to be restructured by the Secretary of the Navy," Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, told The Washington Post. As a result, the Navy cancelled contracts for the second two ships.

The Sea Fighter, the other LCS contender, has been developed by San Diego-based Titan Corp. under an exclusive $59.9 million contract from the Navy's Office of Naval Research. U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, former Chairman and now Ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, secured funding for the vessel's design and construction because "deployment of the Sea Fighter can demonstrate and validate many of the Navy's operational concepts for littoral warfare, and more specifically reduce risk in the Littoral Combat Ship program," according to an announcement on the Congressman's website.

The Sea Fighter, a high-speed, shallow draft catamaran, is made of aluminum, like the Superferry, and the two craft are eerily similar in size, design and performance characteristics. In addition, both the Sea Fighter and Superferry, like the craft leased to the JHSV program, were built to commercial standards, in response to the military's move toward using "off the shelf" technology. This approach allows the Navy to use commercial high-speed vessel training courses for the crew, thus allowing the ship to proceed directly from new construction to deployment, according to a US Navy website.

In effect, the Sea Fighter presented a less-expensive LCS surrogate with which to test various operational aspects of the program. It was launched in February 2005 and formally accepted by the Navy in July 2005 after successfully completing sea trials. But the vessel has since been repeatedly dry-docked due to problems with its propulsion system, and has a worrisome tendency to "fish-tail" under certain conditions. Additionally, Nichols Brothers, the Washington State company that built the Sea Fighter, shut down last November, citing financial problems and a pending lawsuit.

Some Navy officials have expressed fears that Hunter and other lawmakers might consider the smaller Sea Fighter design an acceptable substitute for the larger and far more costly Littoral Combat Ships. And if LCS costs keep rising, officials say, that could be a valid concern. "So the issue will be, can the Navy continue to do more with less," Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., a senior member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, told the Weekly in a recent interview. "There is real skepticism in Congress at this time," Dicks said.

But Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., chairman of the House Armed Services Projection Forces Subcommittee, said during a committee hearing last year that, rather than replacing the LCS, the Sea Fighter would be a "bargain" ship that could "easily operate alongside the LCS and provide our fleet force structure with an increased complexity making our future . . . Navy less vulnerable to the enemy," he said.

Rep. Hunter's list of 30 funding initiatives for 2008 contains just one endorsement--for the Sea Fighter. Attributed to HSF Chairman John Lehman, it states: "This kind of innovative ship, built with commercial off the shelf technology, is the future of an affordable surface Navy."

In addition to investing $58 million equity capital in the Hawaii Superferry project, J.F. Lehman & Company — a New York-based private equity firm led by its namesake — has been making acquisitions that could support LCS and JHSV contracts. These include Atlantic Marine Holding Company, a leading provider of repair, overhaul and maintenance services for commercial seagoing vessels and U.S. Navy ships. The company owns and operates two strategically located shipyards in Jacksonville, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., and leases a third facility at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

Hawaii Superferry's military objectives — and the value of its heavyweight connections — may not be known for certain until the Navy awards the JHSV contract sometime this year and Congress decides how much it's willing to pay for the LCS program. But if Lehman's canny prediction, two years ago, that the ferry would effect a paradigm shift in the way business is conducted in Hawaii is any indication, he and his company know exactly where things are headed.

HW sidebar Four of the 10 members of the Hawaii Superferry Board of Directors have strong ties to the Navy and defense industries.They include its chairman, John Lehman, the former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan. Lehman is a founding partner of J.F. Lehman and Company, which invests primarily in marine and aerospace defense projects. The company invested $58 million equity capital in the interisland ferry project.Lead Director Tig Krekel, who is currently vice chairman of J.F. Lehman, is the former president and chief executive officer of Hughes Space and Communications and the past president of Boeing Satellite Systems. Krekel also is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent five years as a naval officer, where he served as an aide in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. Director George A. Sawyer, a founding partner of J.F. Lehman, is former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, Shipbuilding & Logistics. He was also a submarine engineer officer in the U.S. Navy, and is a member of the American Society of Naval Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.Director John W. "Bill" Shirley is the former program manager of the U.S. Department of Energy, Naval Reactors Division, Seawolf and Virginia Class Submarines. He has 34 years of experience in senior positions at the Navy Division of Naval Reactors. Shirley now works as a private consultant, giving preference to J.F. Lehman Partners.Two of the remaining six directors — C. Alexander Harman and Louis N. Mintz — are employed by J.F. Lehman.

Oahu Superferry EIS meeting very low turn out; Kaua'i needs to turn out strong.



POSTED: 15 MARCH 2008 - 10:30am HST

Oahu Superferry EIS Meeting:
Kauai can do better than that.

image above:om Mitrano of Belt Collins, the state's consultant for an EIS , gave instructions to people
at a meeting at Farrington High School on Ohau. Photo by Richard Walker

by Jonathan Jay on 15 March 2008

Lets see if tiny Kaua`i with less than 1/12th the population of Oahu, can get 12 TIMES MORE people to this meeting than Oahu mustered.Oahu had only 12 participants in two public sessions.


Informational Meeting conducted by HI DOT on Superferry EIS


Two meetings held on Wednesday 19 March 2008
One from from 2:00pm. to 5:00pm.
and another from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.


at the Kaua'i Community College Performing Arts Center.


2 HSF meetings draw 12 people on Oahu
by Leila Fujimori on 15 March 2008 in The Star Bulletin

Only a dozen people attended the two Oahu informational meetings on the Hawaii Superferry's environmental impact statement yesterday.

"Neighbor island residents are much more aware than they are on Oahu" of harbor activities, said Mike Formby, deputy director of the state Harbors Division. "They are aware of when passenger ships are in, cargo ships are in, when milk's arriving. They seem to have a general awareness and consciousness."

Formby also said recreational activities are permitted in neighbor island harbors but not in Honolulu Harbor.

The state, required to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Hawaii Superferry, is holding meetings on six islands to provide information about the process.

The EIS will address, among other things, three proposed new berths to accommodate a second vessel: one each in Honolulu Harbor, Kahului Harbor on Maui and Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island.

Nuuanu resident Lovey Lung, 45, hoped to learn why the Superferry's vessel was damaged and whether the company is financially viable since it suspended operations due to weather and repairs. She fears it might ask the Legislature for more money to finance its operation. "As taxpayers are we going to pay for it?"
A hunter said he hoped the Superferry will sail to all the neighbor islands so he could transport his truck and dogs. A condo dweller from the harbor area complained of noise.

Thirty people attended a March 4 meeting on Molokai, to where the Superferry has no plans to sail, compared with yesterday's four at the 2 p.m. session and eight at the 6 p.m. meeting at Farrington High School's large auditorium.
The Superferry suspended operations several times since starting service in December. It is undergoing repairs to damage to its hull, Formby said.
EIS meetings are set for Monday at Maui's Baldwin High School Auditorium, 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m.; and Wednesday at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center, 2 to 5 and 6 to 9 p.m.





POSTED: 4 MARCH 2008 - 8:00am HST

Hawaii Superferry EIS finally begins

image above: Traffic lined up at Superferry from

HI DOT HSF EIS Meetings on Kaua'i


Informational Meeting conducted by HI DOT on Superferry EIS


Two meetings held on Wednesday 19 March 2008
One from from 2:00pm. to 5:00pm.
and another from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

at the Kaua'i Community College Performing Arts Center.

by Rachel Gehrlein on 29 February 2008 in The Garden Island News

Informational public meetings on the Superferry's Environmental Impact Statement conducted by the Hawai'i state Department of Transportation for the Hawai'i Superferry are under way.

"The meetings are intended to give the public an opportunity to give their input," said Mike Formby, DOT Harbors Division chief. "It's an opportunity to engage the community."Formby said there will be two meetings, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Scott Ishikawa, DOT spokesman, said the EIS will address the secondary impacts, such as whales and other endangered species, that could be affected by the Superferry.

Under Act 2, the law that passed in the Legislature last year, the Superferry is allowed to run provided certain conditions are met while the environmental study is being done.

The conditions include operating restrictions during what some call a truncated account of whale season, as the act cites it as January through April, though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has included the whale season months of November and December.

According to the Division of Land and Natural Resources, up to 10,000 humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters every year from November through May.

The act was passed out of a special session called by Gov. Linda Lingle following Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza's ruling that the ferry couldn't sail during its court-ordered Environmental Impact Study.

Belt Collins, the firm hired by the state and awarded a $1 million contract to complete the EIS on the Superferry, is supposed to report its findings to the DOT.
"Right now, Belt Collins is looking for subcontractors and gathering experts to conduct studies," Formby said. "In a year-long process, we are about two months in."

The Superferry is required to avoid the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary within 100 fathoms or less during those months.

"This project has brought mixed opinion," Ishikawa said. "This meeting would be the proper venue for those to voice their opinion."

Although the Superferry does not service the entire state, meetings will be on the Big Island, Kaua'i, Lana'i and Moloka'i.

"We want to know their feelings," Formby said.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Course Change on Stryker unlikely despite environmental harm
Vol. 13, Issue 64 - Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Ding Dong, the witch is dead . . . . " Superferry Death Knell?

"The Witch is Dead . . . " Superferry Death Knell?

"Ding Dong, the witch is dead . . . . ",/ Superferry Death Knell?
read on about "Superferry in Drydock"
Subject: HSF drydock....the rest of the story

From sources/eyewitnesses close to the HSF dry  dock:

When HSF was being positioned to enter the floating dry dock facility it went aground on a sandbar.  A tug was used to move it off the sandbar, during the move the tug pushed a 20' x 20' dent into the side of the HSF.  HSF encountered a few more bumps in trying to position itself.  When they finally got the vessel in the floating dry dock, they went about putting blocking into place.  The goal is the set the vessel perfectly on these blocks.  The key to the blocks is the must be set directly under each frame of the vessel.  Failure to do so results in pressure on unsupported plate and massive damage.  This procedure is critical for any dry dock and the utmost care is taken.  Hsf entered the floating dry dock, blocks were in place and lines were fastened from above to keep the vessel in place.  The dry dock was raised (water level lowered).  However, attendants failed to slacken the lines.  Pressure mounted, the lines snapped, causing one side of the facility to break off and fall onto HSF, causing major damage.  It gets worse.  When the lines snapped the vessel shifted and the blocking missed the frames, causing damage the entire length of both hulls.  The hull is now structurally damaged, dented and serpentine.  The USCG has ordered massive work to be done.

As of this writing negotiations are under way with USCG to formulate a plan of repair.  The damage is so extensive, no one is sure when or if it will ever get out of dry dock.

One long-time worker at an adjacent boat yard stated: "I don't think that vessel will ever be put back into service".