I'm gone for less than a week and interesting information came fast and furious every day. I'll take it in chronological order:
First, the local newspaper in Mobile, Alabama posted this on their news blog on July 29:
"LCS report" Posted by Press-Register Staff July 29, 2008
This Naval Audit Service report found a "significant breakdown" in internal management controls for the littoral combat ship under construction at Austal USA's shipyard in Mobile. The Press-Register obtained the report under the Freedom of Information Act. The audit service whited-out and blacked-out parts of the report for what it deemed proprietary business reasons. Download file
Second, from July 30, BYM Marine & Maritime News released the following:
"Austal submits final Joint High Speed Vessel proposal to US Navy"
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
"Austal submitted its final Phase II Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) submission to the US Navy this week...[based on the] design and construction experience of commercially based high speed vessels in the USA...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. 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..."
Third, from July 30, Larry Geller immediately picked this up on his blog at:
"Austal contract confirms military use of the Superferry is intended"
Fourth, from later July 30, Joan Conrow picked up on Larry's blog at:
"Superferry Military Link"
"I just checked out Larry Geller's Disappeared 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...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..."
Fifth, on July 30, Marine Link.com carried the following article on the JHSV with a picture of HSF's Alakai right next to it:
"Austal Submits Final Phase II JHSV"
Sixth, on July 30, the Mobile Alabama Press-Register carried the following article also picked up by Navy Times.com of the Navy Audit Service report on LCS-2 that the Press-Register had posted to their blog on July 29:
"Audit: Austal failed to keep tabs on LCS Company didn't keep Navy managers informed on cost and schedule, says report"
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By SEAN REILLY Washington Bureau
"WASHINGTON -- Austal USA failed to keep Navy managers informed about the cost and schedule of the littoral combat ship under construction at its Mobile yard, according to a recent report that also faults the Navy and the project's lead contractor, General Dynamics Corp., for failing to ride herd on the company..."
Seventh, on July 31, LCS-1 was launched, a competitor of Austal's. Here is an article: http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/07/navy_firstLCS_072808p/
and video of it: http://www.militarytimes.com/multimedia/video/072908lcs/
Eighth, on July 31, Galrahn of the Information Dissemination Navy blog put up an outstanding blog entry on current events, pictures, and videos of LCS-1 compared to the situation with LCS-2 and Austal. This is a must read/look:
Ninth, on July 31, Derrick Depledge in an article buried by his editors on the obits page of the Honolulu Advertiser, reported on the BYM Marine & Maritime News release and Larry Geller's Disappeared News coverage of it at:
"Ramp will give next Superferry vessel increased flexibility"
By Derrick DePledge
"The second high-speed catamaran being built for Hawaii Superferry will include a vehicle ramp to make the vessel more flexible at state harbors and more suitable for military use...The second catamaran is under construction at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., and is expected to be delivered next year. Fargo said Superferry has not determined whether it will also retrofit the Alakai...Fargo said yesterday that Superferry decided to go ahead with the ramp without the defense money but is still hopeful..."
Tenth, on July 31, the Mobile Alabama Press-Register carried the following article:
"Austal submits bid to build up to 10 high-speed military vessels"
Thursday, July 31, 2008
By KAIJA WILKINSON
"Mobile shipbuilder Austal USA said Wednesday that it had submitted its final bid for a contract that could lead to construction of up to 10 high-speed troop transport ships...
"We have the trained workforce ready today, we have the facilities available today to support construction, and we have already built a vessel of very similar design right here in Mobile," he said, referring the Hawaii Superferry...
The Mobile shipbuilder also said Wednesday that it had won new work to provide "additional features and equipment on the second Hawaii Superferry to facilitate its use by the military."
Part of a $190-million, two-ship contract, the vessel is being built for Hawaii Superferry Inc. The first Superferry is in service in Hawaii, but the company's plan to run an inter-island ferry service has been plagued by environmental protests, and company officials could be positioning the vessel for sale to a third party.
Browning said he met recently with Thomas Fargo, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who is Hawaii Superferry's chief executive, and there was "no mention" of plans to sell the second vessel.
"However, the national defense features we are adding to HSF 2 would enable the vessel to be chartered to the military if they so desired," Browning said..."
Eleventh, on July 31, Larry Geller responding on his blog to finding his name on the obits page:
"Does military adaptation of Superferry deserve its spot on the obituary page?"
Twelveth, on July 31, Joan Conrow follows up on these events with some additional commentary:
"More on Superferry Military Links"
"...Now I don’t mind if HSF 2, or even the Alakai, for that matter, is made into a military ship, although it bothers me that the HSF spent so much money lobbying in an effort to get us taxpayers to pick up the tab. But I’m a fan of full disclosure, and when Hawaii Superferry came to town, asking for all sorts of state help and public acceptance for what is proving to be a rather dubious commercial enterprise, I think they should have been totally up front about their military aspirations. Then we all could have weighed the issue more carefully, and asked such probing questions as whether HSF really is committed to the state for the long haul, or if we’ll be left holding the bag for those expensive harbor improvements, tugboat operations and litigation — and have no alternative form of transportation to show for it...But slow by slow, it seems the truth is being revealed, and perhaps one day the full tale will be told..."
Thirteenth, later on July 31, rabid reporter Andy Parx wrote a great blog entry review of all this with some biting literary sarcasm at:
"NO, NO- IT’S A JUST WHISKERLESS BARKING CAT"
"...the best kind of scam of all. The most superlatively run cons have partnerships where one of the scammers is also scamming the others because they’re too busy conning others to realize they’re being taken. Ever wonder why an obvious idiot like Garibaldi was put in charge? Garibaldi thought he was going to con everyone else into actually accepting the ferry, be a hero and make a lot of money. Lingle thought she was going to con everyone to put a higher-office feather in her admiral's cap. Everyone involved was out to con someone into something for their personal enrichment, whether monetary or otherwise including many of the “regular people” who thought they were getting insanely cheap transportation or a way to steal and smuggle back neighbor island resources or at least exploit them on the cheap...The most rabid Superferry proponent even asks “how could these people be so stupid.” The answer is they weren’t and aren’t...Nobody is that stupid. They always had this as their real plan."
Fourteenth, on August 1st, BYM Marine & Maritime News and the Mobile Alabama Press-Register came back with some more good coverage:
"Austal breaks ground on new Modular Manufacturing Facility"
"Austal’s US operation located in Mobile, Alabama, celebrated the start of work on its Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF) with a groundbreaking ceremony on July 31, 2008...The state-of-the-art facility will be capable of constructing six large aluminum vessels such as the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and/or Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) per year...Austal submitted its final Phase II Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) submission to the US Navy this week following an extensive detailed design and review process...Austal is preparing to launch the second of two 107-meter Hawaii Superferries in September..."
"Austal begins $245M facility"
Posted by KAIJA WILKINSON August 01, 2008
"Austal USA is banking on a $254 million expansion of its Mobile shipyard to lay the groundwork for large-scale U.S. military work. Austal broke ground Thursday on a modular manufacturing facility that promises faster, less expensive ship construction at a time when the Defense Department is trying to rein in costs, particularly on ships. Whether the U.S. Navy responds with new contracts remains to be seen...According to Browning, the new facility will allow Austal to build ships 10 percent faster from contract award to delivery and trim up to 25 percent of the cost of the next three LCS frames should it win three more...At full build-out, the facility would be capable of turning out six ships on the scale of the LCS each year...Again, that will hinge on winning more work...During the ceremony Browning pointed to the "huge amount of support" the company has gotten on the local, state and federal level since arriving here about eight years ago. Austal will get $24.4 million in sales tax breaks for its new facility, and the Navy has agreed to pay $33 million of the tab, part of a $140 million federal effort to boost post-Hurricane Katrina recovery at Gulf Coast shipyards."
Lastly, on August 1st, Dick Mayer sent out the following bit of humor:
Maternity Ward for the Superferry's children...[Son of a Superferry]
Re: Austal breaks ground on new Modular Manufacturing Facility
Click on those links and read 'em,
We're all caught up now,