Hawaii ferry - a good transportation choice
The Hawaii Superferry made its final interisland voyage last week, capping a period marked by lawsuits, low ridership and suspicion that its ultimate purpose had more to do with military contracts than with connecting the Hawaiian islands. On Monday, the State Supreme Court effectively grounded the vessel, the Alakai, when it struck down an act passed by the Legislature last year that exempted its operator, Hawaii Superferry Inc., from carrying out an environmental impact study. The company said it would not appeal the decision. “We’re going to have to go out and find other employment for Alakai,” said the president of Hawaii Superferry, Thomas B. Fargo, a retired Navy admiral who once commanded American forces in the Pacific. “Certainly the military may very well want to lease this particular ship.” The Marine Corps already leases a similar transport catamaran, the Westpac Express, in Okinawa, Japan. The name on the side of the sleek twin-hulled vessel reads Hawaii Superferry, but the old cargo pier at Lambert's Point Docks is a long way from the islands. The Alakai, one of two high-speed ferries owned by a Hawaiian company that filed for bankruptcy, arrived in Norfolk on Tuesday, with the second due to arrive by the middle of next week, said Scott Schubart, port manager for Norton Lilly International, a national shipping agency. The ferries, now in possession of the U.S. Maritime Administration, are being moved to Norfolk from Mobile, Ala., for "insurance considerations," said Susan Clark, an administration spokeswoman. The upcoming hurricane season was a factor in that decision, she said. The Navy might be looking into the possibility of leasing both, according to a report on the Web site of DefenseNews, a trade publication. The catamaran-style Alakai, with a top speed of 35 knots, is capable of carrying 866 passengers, along with either 282 compact cars, or 20 large trucks and 90 cars. It and its sister ferry were ordered by Hawaii Superferry Inc. to offer an alternative means of travel ing between the Hawaiian islands. The firm was controlled by J.F. Lehman & Co., which was founded by former Navy Secretary John F. Lehman. The Alakai began operations in August 2007 as part of the Inter-Island High Speed Ferry System, running between Oahu and Maui, but ran into legal challenges from environmental groups citing potential threats to whales. In March, the Hawaii Supreme Court declared that legislation allowing the ferries to operate without an environmental impact study was unconstitutional, which shut down the service immediately.
Hawaii Vacations site
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