Thursday, July 16, 2009

Former Hawaii Superferry vessels headed to Virginia


"Mobile-built Hawaii Superferry vessels headed to Norfolk"
Posted by Kaija Wilkinson, Press-Register July 15, 2009

A pair of fast ferries built locally for Hawaii Superferry Inc. are being moved from Mobile to a Norfolk, Va., shipyard by the bankrupt company's main creditor, the U.S. Maritime Administration, MARAD said today.

Alakai, the first vessel to be built and delivered to Hawaii Superferry by Mobile's Austal USA, arrived at Lambert's Point Docks Inc. on Tuesday, while its sister ship, Huakai, is scheduled to leave late this week and arrive in Norfolk the middle of next week, according to Susan Clark, MARAD spokeswoman.

They had been moored at Mobile's Atlantic Marine shipyard, which is owned by former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman. Lehman was until May the primary investor in the Hawaii Superferry venture.

Hawaii Superferry filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in late May. Its ferry construction was financed in large part through a federal program designed to help shipyards diversify. Clark said MARAD has been granted "physical custody" of the vessels but does not yet hold the titles. The administration said last month that it plans to repossess and sell the vessels.

Hawaii Superferry owes MARAD $136.8 million, according to court records. Austal, which built both ferries under a $190 million contract, is owed another $22.9 million, the record shows.

Before talks among MARAD, Austal and Hawaii Superferry fell apart in June, analysts had expected the vessels to be retrofitted by Austal and chartered directly to the military.

Clark said MARAD is now weighing all its options for the ferries, which include sale or charter...>>See rest of article here>>

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