Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cars Damaged Onboard in Rough Seas - Is this Design Ready for JHSV?

Additions made below on 1/6/09 7:45pm:

Well, I've still got at least one more post to do on the lack of studied need being established by the PUC and Act 2: A Closed Class of One (Part 5). Will get that up soon. I've been enjoying a break from this. Also, the updated page for seeing the State Supreme Court decision when it comes out is the following: http://www.state.hi.us/jud/2009jan.htm.

But, what brings me back early here from my vacation is the following report today based on yesterday's transit. I must say I have commented many times on this blog about observers wondering what happens to the cars onboard when the vessel is in turbulent water. Particularly, I have wondered what happens to animals and livestock in vehicles down below when the vessel is in turbulent water. I had assumed that they were hook-chaining the vehicles down in four places on the axels, but I guess not. I recommend reading the comments on the following article:

"Rough seas caused car damage aboard Superferry"
Updated at 6:23 p.m., Monday, January 5, 2009
Read comments (28)
by Advertiser Staff

"Rough seas on Sunday resulted in 'minor damage' to 13 vehicles aboard Hawaii Superferry during its voyage from O'ahu to Maui. The company said the conditions caused some parked vehicles to shift during transit. 'There was no substantive damage to the ship,' said a company statement. 'Affected passengers have been contacted and we are facilitating their claims. This is the first incident in which significant vehicle shifting has occurred,' the statement said. 'Vehicles are now being tied-down in affected areas on days when conditions are unusually rough to mitigate any damage.'"

Some of the better comments on the above article that other blogs have also been referring to:

jklmc wrote:
"My family and I were on this particular voyage...rough doesn't begin to describe the ride. We've caught the Superferry 8 times so far and this was the worst we've ever felt. I can honestly say that this experience has made me decide that I never want to catch the Superferry again. I don't want to take my chances. I estimate that more than 90% of the passengers were vomiting from the moment we passed Diamond Head. There was about 1.5 hours of relative calm while we were sailing between Molokai and Lanai and then the second storm of nauseous attacks began. Our boat was suppose to land at noon, but we docked at around 12:40. I did notice that the captain did slow the boat down at times when the seas seemed insane. My wish is that the Superferry would have some decency to cancel voyages when they know that seas are bad...or at least give passengers the option of rebooking/getting a refund on those days. One thing I may add is that the staff aboard was EXCELLENT & HELPFUL... iron stomachs! 01/05/2009 10:07:24 p.m.

ffejhonolulu wrote:
This happened to a friends truck last year--you would have thought SF would have started tie-downs right after the first accident, back then. It was pretty messy upstairs too with people barfing all over the place!!!!!... 01/05/2009 9:35:24 p.m.

techsavvy wrote:
a couple of thoughts - someone mentioned the parking brakes on the cars - that would not cause this unless the transmission broke (which is possible, it is a big ocean)... - I talked to a guy who has alot of time on the water in Hawaii who rode it on a 'moderate' day - in the channel, the windows were flexing as they hit waves at 35 knots and you could hear little 'rattle ding cling' noise just like you do when you slam a boat into waves (whether it is a 15' whaler or a 54' Bertram - DUH!!!!)... 01/05/2009 7:58:33 p.m.

Kaumanua wrote:
Good luck getting their insurance carriers to cover the damage. I think there was only one carrier in Hawaii that covered loss or damage to vehicles while on ocean transport. I highly doubt that SF will pay for the damage, but you never know. . . they have been very accomodating to local passengers and often bend over backwards to ensure their customers are satisfied. Accidents happen, nature is unpredictable. 01/05/2009 5:09:01 p.m.

scat47 wrote:
And they're planning on coming across the Alenuehaha channel to Kawaihae? Don't think it's going to happen....01/05/2009 5:01:12 p.m.

Here is a KGMB-9 video report on this story.

Regarding techsavvy's above comment, here is a video under similar conditions where you can hear it and the 'deck-slamming' for yourself:

Here is another extended video of what these type of conditions would look like on the vessel from onshore:

Now, the really interesting part. We have talked about deck-slamming on this blog before, but there is more to this and it relates now to what we are seeing, so quoting from the following article, "Need for Speed" by By David Perera appearing in The Military Logistics Forum of December 2008:

"A 2007 Rand study concluded that presence of a single JHSV in a scenario of transporting Army units from a seabase would 'roughly halve the time required to transport an Army brigade ashore.' [Are we talking about a difference of 15 minutes?--Ed.] Still, one of the report’s authors remains skeptical. 'There are some significant interoperability problems with using the JHSV with seabasing,' said Robert Button, a Rand senior analyst. Design specifications call for the ship to be fully operational up to 'sea state 3,' in which the height of waves (from trough to crest) are no more than two feet and winds don’t gust above 10 knots. 'But, the vessel is not designed for interoperability above ‘sea state 3',' Button said...

Vessel proponents say that sea state hasn’t been much of an issue to date. 'We’ve sailed the boats in big seas,' said the Army’s Wichterman, citing a time when a leased catamaran transported a Stryker company from California to Washington during a gale. 'It didn’t leak, it didn’t take on water. It took a severe pounding, but again, it was successful at the end of the day.' As for JHSV’s compatibility with seabasing, it’s likely that 'every boat is going to find it difficult to work 50 miles off shore in a seaway with vessels that aren’t going to be able to anchor to transfer cargo at sea,' Wichterman added...

How robustly the JHSV will survive high sea states may come down to which design the military chooses. Incat relies on a wave-piercing design meant to prevent waves from slamming into its vessels’ underhull. Austal, instead, relies on a tall flat bow between the two hulls to neutralize waves..."

It would appear that with this design waves are being neutralized with difficult 'seakeeping' conditions and possibly destructive underhull deck-slamming as opposed to Incat's underhull wave-piercing design.

Maybe this all relates to the following consulting contract solicitation being issued by the DoD on JHSV quietly and quickly in November 2008:

JHSV Operational Assessment Subject Matter Experts
Solicitation Number: N00033-09-R-3300
Nov 20, 2008 9:35 am
General Information
Notice Type: Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
The Military Sealift Command has a requirement for specialized technical services to support an Operational Assessment (OA) for the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). See Statement of Work below for details.
Posted Date: November 20, 2008
Response Date: Nov 28, 2008 10:00 am Eastern
Archiving Policy: Automatic, 15 days after response date
Archive Date: December 13, 2008
Responses to this solicitation are due by 10:00 AM Eastern Time on 28 November 2008.

My recommendation is that both the State and DoD should have gone with a true wave-piercing underhull design to minimize destructive deck-slamming and maximize seakeeping for passengers. It's not too late for both of them to correct this.

Aloha, Brad

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