Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hope Kallai's comments on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS' (3)

The following are Hope Kallai's of Kauai comments on the Act 2 Pseudo-'EIS'. This letter is of comments regarding the appropriateness of the vessel and barge/ramp designs for this project:

23 February 2009

Hope Kallai

Katherine Puana Kealoha, Director
Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control
235 S. Beretania St., Suite 702
Honolulu, HI 96813
Fax: (808) 586-4186 and

Michael Formby, Deputy Director
Hawaii Department of Transportation, Harbors Division,
79 S. Nimitz Highway,
Honolulu, HI 96813
Fax: (808) 587-3652

RE: Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statement Large Capacity, High-Speed Interisland Ferry Alakai, Hawaii Superferry, Inc.

Aloha Director Kealoha and Deputy Director Formby:

In preparation of my comments on other focuses of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the large capacity high-speed interisland ferry project, there are two significant questions have arisen about the vessel Alakai and it’s sister ship, now known as Hull A616:

1. Appropriateness of the vessels for this project
2. Compliance with existing laws

The Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. (HSF) has often touted their vessels: the design, the speed, the embedded technology, the ability to carry strategic cargo loads, and built the largest aluminum vessels at the time, according to the
National Geographic Special "Mega Structures," reiterating the need in the PUC Application 2004 with plans to travel between the main four islands of O`ahu, Maui, Kaua`i and Hawai`i.

Using 25 years of deep-water buoy data, Sean Vitouosek and Charles H. Fletcher, in Maximum Annually Recurring Wave Heights in Hawai`i by, funded by NOAA Office of Sea Grant, Department of Commerce, Project No. R/EP-26, sponsored by the University of Hawai`i Sea Grant College Program, SOEST, in Pacific Science (2008), vol . 62, no. 4:541-553, UH Press found:

"The annual recurring significant wave height was found to be 7.7 ± 0.28m (25 ft ± 0.9 ft), and the top 10% and 1% wave heights during this annual swell was 9.8 ± 0.35 m (32.1 ft ± 1/115 ft) and 12.9± 0.47 m (42.3 ft ± 1.5 ft), respectively, for open North and Northwest Pacific swell.

The islands of Hawai`i lie in the midst of a large swell-generating basin, the North Pacific. Tropical storms tracking to the north-west and north of the islands produce winter swell with breaking face heights exceeding 5 meters several times each year.

The average significant wave height is 7 meters for open north and north-west facing shores such as Kaua`i and O`ahu where the swell is directly incident to the shoreline and blocking from neighbor islands is minimized."

Big waves in the winter. No surprise. Most people here are aware of this. What I was not aware of is found in Certificate of Inspection, United States Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, dated 24 May 2007, on the aluminum hull vessel Alakai, #1182234 which states:

"Approval of the vessel’s hull structure is based on the vessel having a displacement not greater than 2211 metric tons and compliance with the design restrictions regarding wave height and vessel speed. The vessel shall follow the restrictions as identified below in the significant wave height vs. speed table as approved by the Marine Safety Center letter H2-0701537 dated May 15, 2007:

The Master shall obtain current weather date from a recognized weather service prior to commencing any trip to ensure the following parameters are not exceeded during the voyage:

Significant Wave Height(m) Maximum Allowable Speed(kts)

0 – 2.8(m) 45.0(kts)
2.8 - 3.2(m) 37.3(kts)
3.2 - 3.5(m) 33.0(kts)
3.5 – 4.0(m) 28.0(kts)
4.0 – 5.0(m) 22.0(kts)

5.0 – 6.0(m) 19.0(kts)
Above 6.0(m) Seek Shelter At Slow Speed

The vessel is limited to a 6.0 meter significant wave height when carrying passengers based on the post-flooding downflooding point requirement of HSC Code and the limited extrapolation of voyage data validating maximum horizontal accelerations associated with passenger safety in accordance with 2000 HSC Code, Table 1, Annex 3. See Marie Safety Center Letter H2-0703356 dated October 31, 2007 and H2-0703788 dated December 12 2007.

Failure to load and operate the vessel in accordance with this operational envelope may result in excessive hull stresses not contemplated by this approval."

The High Speed Ferry Alakai is limited to a significant wave height of 6.0 meters when carrying passengers.

North and Northwest Pacific swell significant wave height in Hawai`i is 7.0 meters.

...It would appear that this vessel will be affected a substantial amount of time.
Vessel/wave limitations should not force alternate choices with greater impact to endangered species and the marine environment. The DEIS should address vessel design alternatives as well as a No Action alternative.

In a PowerPoint presentation on ferry development projects entitled "Communicating through Public-Private Partnerships," President and CEO of Hornblower Marine John W. Waggoner informed the 10th annual Harbor Safety Committee Conference:

Vessel Selection
The most important factor to creating a successful Ferry Service is the selection of the correct vessel for the intended route.

Including that sometimes...

Vessel Criteria

Two smaller vessels would be better than one large vessel

Perhaps we did not need the largest aluminum vessels in the United States (at the time it was built)...

Again, the DEIS needs to consider if this vessel is really suited to the needs of the people of Hawai`i. San Francisco has an entirely different alternative.

This illustration shows a 600-passenger ferry powered in part by solar panels and the wind. Designed by a company called Solar Sailor, the trimaran concept has been eyed by a California company that will sail two wind and solar powered ferries in San Francisco Bay:

"Solar, wind powered ferries to sail on S.F. Bay"
Solar Sailor
By Miguel Llanos, Reporter,
Updated: 5:46 a.m. PT May 25, 2006

"Two tourist ferries powered in part by the wind and the sun will carry visitors to San Francisco's Alcatraz Island under a contract between the National Park Service and a private company. "Riding one of these ferries will be like switching from a gas-guzzling SUV to a hybrid car," said Teri Shore, director for clean vessels at the environmental group Bluewater Network, which supports the project. "The ferries will get far better mileage and pollute half as much because they will run on electricity or sail much of the time."

Ferry operator Hornblower Cruises and Events won the contract with its bid to incorporate wind and solar power into a diesel ferry that also has electric motors. Alcatraz, the former prison that is now a tourist attraction, is managed by the National Park Service.

The public is going to be excited to get on a vessel like that," says Hornblower President Terry MacRae. Australian advice Hornblower has been working with Solar Sailor, an Australian company that operates a similar ferry in Sydney. Hornblower expects its first vessel will be built within two years and the second within five. The ferries could be each large enough to accommodate 600 passengers.

The costs for each are uncertain, MacRae said, but could be around $5 million each - a premium of about 50 percent over a diesel-only ferry.

A solar-wind ship has never been used in the United States, he added, "So there's definitely a learning curve." But the advantages, he says, include saving on fuel and avoiding the awful smell of diesel at dockside. The design isn't nailed down, but one Solar Sailor concept includes a large, rigid wing covered in solar panels that captures solar and wind power while also allowing sail navigation when conditions are right. In bad weather, the sail folds down flat above the deck like a roof.

Diesel-electric hybrid

Bluewater likened the overall concept to a gasoline-electric hybrid car, only in this case it would be diesel-electric. "Large batteries on board the vessels will store electricity generated by the diesel generators and collected by solar panels," Bluewater said in a statement. "The electricity then powers the electric motors."

Solar Sailor

Solar Sailor operates a smaller ferry within Sydney harbor. The batteries allow the diesel engines to be turned off at port, which means no smells or emissions at the boarding ramp. The vessels can also be plugged into an onshore power outlet to recharge the batteries.

The diesel generators themselves will burn low-sulfur fuel and will have pollution controls that cut emissions by 70 to 90 percent compared to conventional marine diesels.

"In the event of an earthquake or other disaster," Bluewater added, "the boats can operate at low speeds for emergency purposes on wind and electricity without any fuel, and could potentially help to shuttle commuters across the bay if necessary."

Further on November 7, 2007 4:42 PM PST
"Solar ships coming to San Francisco in 2009"
By Michael Kanellos

"In two years, tourists will likely be traveling to Alcatraz on green energy.

Australia's Solar Sailor has come up with a way to make large solar panels that can also act like sails. Put one or more of the sails on a boat and the boat get converted into a hybrid. The boat still has a diesel engine, but it mostly gets around on wind or sun power. A tour boat in Sydney Harbor has an array of eight small solar sails.

"It makes three runs a day and uses 1/10th of the fuel," says CEO Robert Dane.

The sail itself is solid and not flexible like cloth sails, but it functions like regular sails, he said. The solar panels, which are made with the assistance of a German company, are also lighter than typical silicon solar panels.

Hornblower Yachts in San Francisco is currently trying to get Coast Guard approval for a ferry powered by one of Solar Sailor's sails. If all goes well, the boat will be ferrying passengers in 2009. The picture shows Dane and a model of what the San Francisco boat will look like.

Solar Sailor also won a contract to deliver a set of sails for a 150-passenger boat in Shanghai. Additionally, it is working on a contract for four 100-person ferries in Hong Kong.

Like hybrid cars, boats equipped with the company's solar sails get their best mileage results in short-haul trips. The results, so far, are pretty impressive, Dane notes. In Sydney, the boat with the solar sails can go 6 knots on either wind power or solar power. Wind and sun together allow the boat to go around 10 knots. (Cumulatively, the sails on the Sydney boat can generate 16 kilowatts.)

The San Francisco boat will likely be able to go several knots on wind power alone.

Solar Sailor doesn't make the boat. It makes the sail and consults with the boat builder to ensure that it gets integrated properly and safely. The San Francisco boat will likely cost $8.5 million. Of that total, $1.5 million will be for the sail.

The sail on the San Francisco boat will approximately be 15 meters high. The boat will only have one sail. The Sydney boat has eight shorter sales that can be sailed in unison or individually. Computer studies, however, convinced Dane that the best design involves only one or two sails."

On the other hand, Christie Wilson, in the
Honolulu Advertiser on Dec. 3, 2007 wrote:

"Waves with 20- to 30-foot faces slammed against the breakwaters at the entrance to the busy port, while swells estimated at up to 70 feet broke on outside reefs along the adjoining coastline.

The wave action inside the harbor caused lines securing NCL's Pride of America cruise ship at Pier 1 to snap, forcing the vessel to cut short its Maui port call and seek safety in the open ocean.

At Pier 2, the state-owned barge used by Hawaii Superferry lost several of its lines for the third time in recent weeks. Two bollards to which lines were attached were uprooted from the pier and will have to be replaced, according to Michael Formby, head of the Department of Transportation's Harbors Division.

Both the cruise ship and the ferry barge were secured by additional lines and at no time did they break free from their berths, Formby said.

The barge is normally tied up at the end of Pier 2 but was moved to a more sheltered area alongside the pier after it broke several lines Nov. 14 because of wave action.


Although today's visit was postponed, Terry O'Halloran, director of business development for Hawaii Superferry, said in an e-mail that harbor conditions yesterday would not have prevented the 350-foot catamaran from making a regularly scheduled commercial run to the Maui harbor.

The swells did prove too risky for Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines' 579-foot Jean Anne, which left the harbor about 11:30 a.m. yesterday without unloading its shipment of vehicles..."

Twenty to 30 foot face waves at the entrance of the harbor; 70 foot wave faces breaking on the reef. Car barge turned away. A cruise ship couldn’t even tie up. And Terry Would Go!!

The DEIS needs to address the appropriateness and safety of the vessel and barges for the waters of Hawai`i, how many times the operational envelope has been exceeded by failing to comply with the wave height criteria, evaluate the cumulative stress of exceeding the operating envelope and seriously reconsider whether this project is truly in the Public Need.

One criterion of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is that the HSF must be in compliance with all applicable rules, regulations and laws.

In the
Performance Audit on the State Administration’s Actions Exempting Certain Harbor Improvements to Facilitate Large Capacity Ferry Vessels from the Requirements of the Hawai`i Environmental Impact Statements Law: Phase II A Report to the Governor and the Legislature of the State of Hawai‘i, Report No. 08- 11 December 2008, the Auditor of the State of Hawai`i, states:

"On September 9, 2005, DOT awarded a $38.5 million contract to design and build barges and vehicle ramp systems for the statewide inter-island ferry system to Healy Tibbitts Builders, Inc. (Healy Tibbitts). The department’s contract required Healy Tibbitts to design, build, and install a barge system consisting of the barge, mooring system, and fenders.

The three State-owned barges used by Hawai`i Superferry Inc. were built in China and therefore are not part of what is termed as the “Jones Act Fleet.” The Jones Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often referred to “The Jones Act,” is a federal statute passed by Congress in 1920 to regulate maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports and to protect the domestic shipping industry. The Jones Act requires vessels engaged in U.S. domestic shipping to be U.S.-flagged vessels built in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and documented under the laws of the United States. This requirement also applies to barges.

Not being part of the Jones Act Fleet would have little consequence if the State’s barges were to spend their entire operational life as loading and unloading platforms for Hawai`i Superferry Inc. However, as this report has outlined, the use of the barges will likely change significantly in the near future. Therefore, since the State’s barges do not comply with the Jones Act, they cannot be converted to cargo carriers, since they would be prohibited from carrying merchandise and cargo between U.S. ports. At present, it is unknown how this will affect the resale value of the barges.

In addition, in the opinion of the DOT’s Hawai`i district manager, because the system was built to accommodate the stern-only configuration of the Hawai`i Superferry, the barges are probably unusable as loading and unloading platforms for other harbor users. Therefore, they cannot be repurposed by the State in their present configurations."

The 280’ long x 105 ’wide barge at Kahului Harbor, the
Manaiakalani, was installed in August, 2007. Since that time, the barge, engineered to sustain storm and surge conditions, occasional high wave action and occasional high winds, has sustained serious damage in:

· Mid- Sept 2007
· Mid- Oct 2007
· Mid- Nov 2007
· Early Dec 2007
· Mid-Jan 2008
· Early Apr 2008

The cost to fix these damages is over $3.5 million, with the on-going need for tug boats (~3 tug hours/trip in Kahului at about $1000/hr). In the Phase II Report to the Governor, the Auditor found:

"After the November 2007 incident, the barge’s internal framing was buckled and twisted, brackets were tripped and buckled, and the side shell plate was dented. Also, the fender system was extensively damaged. Following heavy surge conditions and high winds in December 2007, the barge’s hand railings and stanchions were bent and fractured, and the access ladder was damaged. When asked about the barge damage, Healy Tibbitts responded that 'the barge was damaged when weather conditions exceeded the mooring system operational limits' and 'the barge was not moved away from the pier in time to prevent damage.'"

I certainly hope this damage is not from the 3 December 2007 wind and surge event where the Director of the Department of Transportation said, on 4 December 2007, “there was no additional damage to the barge, which was dented during the Nov. 14 incident,” yet the
Alakai did not resume service until 13 December 2007. The Auditor further found:

"The State has since provided Healy Tibbitts with two change orders to provide labor, materials, and equipment to repair the barge damage: one for $273,859 to address a portion of the damages incurred in mid-November 2007 and another for $169,411 to address a portion of the damage incurred in early December.

However, the repair work will not prevent future damage. According to the department, as long as the barge is moored at its present location at Pier 2C, it will continue to be susceptible to unfavorable conditions caused by high surge, swells, and wind. (Emphasis added).

In December 2007, the department estimated that the total cost to remove wreckage and fix the barge and pier damage incurred in mid-November and early December will be more than $3.4 million. This included $483,000 for barge hull repair and inspection, $2.2 million for Pier 2C fender system repairs, $680,000 for barge mooring system repairs, and $75,000 for wreckage removal. Currently, the Department, Hawai`i Superferry Inc. and Healy Tibbitts are engaged in a dispute over who is responsible for the problems encountered with the Kahului barge’s mooring system."

The barges cost over $38.5 million to build and may not be needed because of a retrofit of the
Alakai with a folding, onboard ramp. The ramps cannot be sold in the USA because they are not in compliance with the Jones Act which covers the movement of merchandise in the domestic, waterborne trades in Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (46 U.S.C. 883; 19 CFR 4.80 and 4.80b), requiring that only U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-crewed vessels be used to transport merchandise in U.S. domestic trade; while the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (46 U.S.C. 289), when applied in conjunction with particular sections of the Merchant Marine Act, governs the U.S. domestic passenger trades, setting the standards for passenger vessels as the Merchant Marine Act does for cargo vessels. Provisions of U.S. cabotage law also cover mixed-use vessels carrying both cargo and passengers.

Concerning the U.S. domestic passenger trades, the Passenger Vessel Services Act states:

No foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, either directly or by way of a foreign port, under a penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported and landed.

The U.S. Customs Service, the agency responsible for interpreting U.S. cabotage laws, has ruled that foreign-flag cruise vessels may carry passengers on so-called "cruises to nowhere" (cruises that begin and end at the same U.S. port and do not touch any other port, U.S. or foreign) without violating the Passenger Vessel Services Act, since such voyages do not entail transportation between U.S. ports or places...

The barge is a foreign-built vessel; use of it in U.S waters is in violation of the Jones Act. When in service, it is being used for daily transport of merchandise in domestic commerce.

The DEIS needs to address [possible] Jones Act violations. Operation of the Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. is predicated upon compliance. When in non-compliance, the HSF cannot be allowed to operate in the waters of Hawai`i.

As Jean Oshita HAR/HIDOT so aptly put it in her 11/11/2004 email to Fred Pascua and Marshall Ando HAR/HIDOT concerning the Superferry notched pier/barge and ramp OEQC confusion,
“It is quite obvious we are in deep kimchee.” Have we made the Pinto of the sea?

Thank you for addressing these concerns in the DEIS.

Hope Kallai

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