from reporter Joan Conrow's blog, Kauai EclecticDisappeared News blog and he has a very interesting post that confirms something that many of us have believed all along: the Hawaii Superferry is indeed intended for military purposes.
Larry quotes a report in today's edition of BYM Marine and Maritime News that contains this nugget:
Austal was recently awarded a new contract to provide additional features and equipment on the second Hawaii Superferry to facilitate its use by the military. This follows on from the long term charter, since 2001, of the Austal built 101 metre vehicle-passenger catamaran "WestPac Express" by the III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) based on Okinawa, Japan. As an adapted commercial vessel "WestPac Express" has demonstrated the enormous flexibility, cost savings and efficiencies achievable by commercial fast ferry technology over conventional air or sea transport.
As you may recall, the company had sought federal funding to equip the second ferry with ramps that would allow the military vehicles to easily access the ship. Other documents indicated that Austal also wanted to add desalination and sewage treatment plants and widen the hull to facilitate military uses. The total price tag was $5 million.
The article also states that Austal USA, which built the Alakai, continues to participate in the process to secure the lucrative Navy contract to build Joint High Speed Vessels for the military. It states:
The Austal JHSV Team's low risk, proven technology solution combines the expertise of Austal USA, Austal Ships (Australia) and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GDAIS).
Austal USA's Mobile, Alabama shipyard is unique in having the proven infrastructure and trained workforce in place to design, construct, deliver and service 100 metre+ high speed ships in the US. Austal USA recently launched the 127 metre trimaran LCS-2 "Independence" combat ship for the US Navy and has under construction the second 107 metre Hawaii Superferry catamaran high speed vehicle-passenger ferry. In 2007 Austal USA delivered the first Hawaii Superferry "Alakai" for intra-island service in the Hawaiian islands.
Thanks, Larry, for picking up that bit of "news."