First, is the following video report yesterday from KHNL:
New superferry has one main difference
By Duane Shimogawa
"MOBILE (KHNL) -- ...still months away, probably February next year. The new ferry incorporates some minor changes like friendlier serving areas, an upgraded sound system and a different color scheme. The biggest difference though is a foldable ramp..."
And the second are more thorough details on the plans for the ramp, desalination plant, and wastewater treatment plant on the 'Koa' version of HSF, found on the web at http://www.islandbreath.org/:
Click here to view the PDF 3meg detailed file on proposed changes to HSF 'Koa' Hull A616.
"Superferry Corporation seeks DOD contract"
by Juan Wilson on 4 August 2008 revision 1.1 080805
"I have received a PDF file from an obscured source that appears to be a proposal from the Hawaii Superferry Corporation (HSF) to the Department of Defense (DOD). Click here to download PDF 3meg file.
The proposal is for the outfitting of the second Superferry (Austal hull A616), now under construction at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, with what it calls "National Defense Features" (NDF) that would make the new Superferry more useful to the military.
The document paints a picture of a working partnership between the Superferry Corporation, Austal USA and the US Navy to coordinate the construction of civilian ferries for military use and ultimately to develop a Navy ship class that began with the Marine Third Expeditionary Force use of WestPac Express.
The proposal states:
'It seems evident that the impressive capabilities of these new, large, and fast commercial vessels could be of important service in carrying out in-theater lift missions for the Department of Defense (DOD) under any rapid mobilization scenario envisioned and codified by the VISTA program.
But operational autonomy and self-sustainability appear to be essential mission objectives for most of the scenarios discussed and reviewed by military authorities. Accordingly, it is proposed that DOD sponsor the addition of three features critical to self-sustainability under the National Defense Feature (NDF) provision of law.
These three features described in more detail below are the installed folding ramp system, a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant, and a comparable certified wastewater treatment and disposal system.
We believe that accomplishment of these additions will provide significantly more flexibility and utility of these vessels in rapidly responding to the demanding and diverse requirements of national defense service.
With these features installed, the mobilization period before readiness for DOD service in any time of emergency can be reduced to a matter of a few days.'
The document appears to be a second or third generation photo copy that has been scanned and converted into a PDF file before distribution. The document is dated 11 March 2008 and looks to be on Superferry Corporation stationary.
Besides the cover (see detail above) the document has twelve numbered pages and three pages of illustrations.
If the document is genuine, it is supporting evidence that details what the Superferry proposes to do to redesign the Superferry fleet (and future JHSV's) to meet military specifications.
The primary NDF improvements are:
1) the addition of a loading ramp capable of loading a wide range of military hardware onto the vehicle deck from the stern of the vessel (like the Marine's WestPac Express in Okinawa.
2) the addition of seawater desalinization equipment for extended journeys
3) the capability of handling waste water generated on extended journeys.
AS to the ramp, remember that the clumsy use of barges for loading the Superferry were only considered because they would not constitute harbor infrastructure improvements and would therefore not trigger a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A genuine EIS could sink or delay the project. That might have threaten the prospective loan guarantees of $150 million from the Maritime Administration (MARAD)."
Also from http://www.islandbreath.org/:
"Superferry lobbies for military upgrade;
Company spends $210K on lobbyists to obtain funds for vehicle ramp"
by Derrick DePledge on 14 June 2008 in The Honolulu Advertiser
"Hawaii Superferry has spent $210,000 since last summer to lobby for federal money to install features on its second high-speed catamaran to make it more attractive for military use.
Lobbyists hired by Superferry approached the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense to help pay for a vehicle ramp and other improvements. The ramp would allow the new catamaran to load and unload vehicles at most large piers instead of relying on shore-based ramps and barges.
Superferry paid Blank Rome LLC, a prominent law and lobbying firm, to try to obtain federal money through the National Defense Features program to cover the cost of improvements to its second catamaran under construction at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. The defense program covers the installation of militarily useful features on commercial ships if the owners agree to make the ships available to the military during emergencies.
Superferry also may eventually retrofit the Alakai, which is now in commercial passenger and cargo service between O'ahu and Maui, with a vehicle ramp and other improvements. The improvements to the catamarans, if completed, would make the vessels self-sustaining and better suited for military assignments here and abroad. The second ferry is scheduled for delivery next February..."