Sunday, April 26, 2009

Whoa! Does 4 of those look energy efficient to ya?

MTU just put out this picture for a trade show coming up in early May. This is the same type of engine that the Alakai and Huakai each run on. Actually they each run on 4 of these engines. Does that look like it could be energy efficient at moving anything other than heavy equipment compared to moving it in a cargo jet? Click on image to enlarge.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

They're not comin' back?

Well, this is interesting. The first shoe drops. How about the other shoe? Of more interest will be what happens to the monthly payments due to DOT, the explanation for that, and what DOT does about that relative to the Harbors Operating Agreement beyond the fact that with the Court's reversal at a minimum the Kahului Harbor portion of the Harbors Operating Agreement should now be considered voided until the Chap. 343 EIS is done. And again this begs the question for new scoping meetings for the Chap. 343 EIS. If not this kind of vessel, then what kind?


Advertiser Staff

Waterfront Partners sued Hawaii Superferry in Circuit Court today, alleging that Superferry has failed to pay $51,310 in rent on its leased headquarters at One Waterfront Plaza.

The landlord alleges Superferry stopped making lease payments on March 20, the day after Superferry ceased operations in Hawai'i because of a state Supreme Court ruling...

In the complaint filed with the court yesterday, the landlord accuses Superferry of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The suit alleges Superferry leased the office space through July 2013.

Superferry officials could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nawiliwili Harbor: Here's what your missin'

The Surfrider Foundation, Kaua'i Chapter helped organize an Earth Day celebratory harbor clean-up, along with the Sierra Club, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Nawiliwili Harbor Yacht Club among others. This video shows the clean-up and the impact of marine debris on our aquatic environment. Mahalos to all who participate in our clean ups!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aluminium hull Combatant Wrong Match for Pirates

Video from sympathetic local Alabama media, notice the vessels in the background:

Now, here's a real evaluation of how useful or not LCS as configured would be with pirates:

From Information Dissemination

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Question From the Department of Dissent

I believe in the theories I opine through the blog. They do not focus on major power war and high intensity conflict in the maritime domain; rather they focus entirely on littoral warfare and low intensity challenges emerging in the maritime domain. I contend that the line between war and peace at sea is becoming blurred, and the approaches to dealing with both are evolving two very different directions, although with some convergence.

I believe it takes fewer people to kill more people in the 21st century due primarily to the advances in technology; we are simply more lethal than we have ever been in the past. I believe naval forces require more ships for peacemaking than they will for warfighting, and that the costs of warfighting with fewer ships will still be extraordinarily higher than the costs of fielding more ships for peacemaking. I believe that when the Navy takes risk in the development of fleet constitution, the Navy should take risks for peacemaking roles, not warfighting roles, but at no time can the Navy ignore the necessity to field low cost platforms for peacemaking.

I believe unmanned technology will continue to improve our lethality for warfighting, but peacemaking at sea begins with the fundamental requirement of manpower. I believe the platform that will make the largest difference in peacemaking in the 21st century is the mothership for both manned and unmanned systems, but while the mothership may be optimized for peacemaking the platform must be big enough to escalate violence as needed in its operational environment, which for me means the mothership will consist of both manned and unmanned systems.

As I observe the unfolding events off the coast of Somalia, I'm very pleased to find that virtually every one of the theories for peacemaking opined on the blog over the last 20 months are proving true. It is mothership operations with small boats and manned aircraft that is making the most significant impact in the fight against pirates, or said another way; the USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) is being used as a mothership.

I have been given a bit of smack from folks for calling the USS Freedom (LCS 1) a mothership. It is, it is a small mothership and designed specifically for operating unmanned platforms. With that specific design parameter, I believe the LCS is limited, because as a platform not really built for war but designed specifically for unmanned systems, it is intended for war. I have called out a number of folks for suggesting this is a peacemaker platform. It isn't, it can enable that environment with its unmanned systems and conflicting combination of speed and space, but I disagree with every single person who believes the LCS can do what the USS Vella Gulf (CG 73) is doing, and I can now prove it.

So as a vocal and visible member of the Department of Dissent, I'd like to ask a question to those advocating the 21st Century frigate can do everything, and this particularly applies double for the leftover Bush administration civilians who got their honorary PHDs on 'techno-centric naval requirements and solutions' from the University of Rumsfeld. Can you explain to me how the LCS can do what the USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) is doing, because I think based on just a few photographs it has become pretty obvious we see some fairly obvious flaws in the suggestion the LCS is the everything solution people have suggested.

Observe in photography. Keep in mind these photos appear to be taken from a helicopter, specifically from Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky who is on the USS Vella Gulf (CG 72). He would be the 5th person on any helicopter giving us all the photography, which I believe is an important part of this actually. In the top picture of the first incident I see 2 RHIBs with an 8 person team and 2 helicopters each with 4 person crews. In the bottom picture of the second incident I see 2 RHIBs with 12 person teams and 2 helicopters with 4 person crews. Add one more if you want photo drama. Click the images; use high resolution to count heads yourself if needed.

This means 25 naval personnel were involved in the first picture, and 29 naval personnel were involved in the second incident. The LCS has a maximum crew size of 75 by design, and there just isn't berthing space for more.

Will someone please explain how the LCS does this job? The Freedom (and I bet Independence) can carry 2 H-60s and 3 Fire Scouts in the hanger, although the current configuration calls for only 1 H-60 with the modules. Trust me, there is plenty of room for two on Freedom, I measured it myself. There is also plenty of space in the module bays for multiple RHIBs, indeed the LCS could deploy 2 manned RHIBS and 2 armed unmanned RHIBS with room to spare. It does appear the LCS can carry the equipment for this role, but there is a problem, where do the people come from? There is even room in the mission bay for the makeshift prison like what the Navy has done on the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1).

A core crew of 40, a crew of 15 mission module, and a crew of 20 for aviation takes the total up to 75. Does anyone else think there might be a problem with the whole platform peacemaking model when your 3000 tons ship has to use 1/3 of its total personnel to round up a little dingy full of bad guys?

Think about the crew breakdown a minute. 40 core crew. I would assume we would want an 8 man Coast Guard LEDET team, which leaves 27 spots for the aviation crews to run potentially two H-60s and 3 Fire Scouts. For just 1 H-60 and 3 Fire Scouts, the current requirement is 20 people, so the extra H-60 would only give you 7 more people, 4 which would be the crew. That gives you three spare berths on the ship to fill, which I'd bet is not enough to help out the second H-60, so the question is whether those 7 would be enough to operate 2 armed USVs when the normal module requirement is more than double (15).

Anyone else seeing the problem here? The LCS is not built for joint operations with the Coast Guard, which is exactly what peacemaking is. The LCS is built for countering small boat threats... BUT PIRACY IS A SMALL BOAT THREAT... and the LCS can't even do 2 manned RHIBs and 2 H-60s while including a LEGIT detachment from the DOG. This is why the techno-centric requirement set is such a load of crap, in Rumsfeld's world we blow the living shit out of everything and ask questions later. In what world will our political leadership be allowing that kind of RoE short of major power war?

With all due respect to the advocates of the '21st century frigate' as a way to deal with peacemaking requirements at sea, do the math by counting heads, you are short on manpower! It takes people to fly Helicopters and conduct the work on RHIBS, but it also takes people to control Fire Scouts and operate USVs. When you are short on people, you have to make sacrifices. The 75 crew maximum on the LCS, which is our half a billion dollar littoral do everything platform, prohibits the LCS from actually doing just what we are seeing now. The LCS does not have enough berthing just to do this very simple 2 helicopter and 2 RHIB operation of rounding up a handful of pirates, and we think we need to build 53 more?

This platform is an abortion of requirements planning. The LCS does not have enough crew to do peacemaking. The LCS is built to deploy unmanned technologies, a warfighting capability, but is built to the lowest warfighting survivability standard allowed for Navy ships. The LCS is optimized for speed and space, despite the obvious problem of adding stuff in the space creating weight that slows down the speed. Why is it asking too much to build a littoral ship with characteristics that compliment rather than compete with one another?

This ship is proving my USS Langley analogy correct every day, because it can do what it was built to do, it just can't do it very well. We didn't convert towards 55 Langley class aircraft carriers; we learned our lessons and moved on. With so many obvious problems with the LCS, starting with the fact the ship is great right up until contact with the enemy (which is what 2 RHIBs and 2 H-60s is!), clearly this ship needs partners to utilize all that information gathering capability the ship actually can do.

Peacemaking at sea requires manpower. This is a solid example of how manpower intensive even a simple peacemaking operation like rounding up a handful of pirates off a tiny vessel at sea can be. This is also a solid example how the LCS cannot do what everyone wants it to do, not without the other platforms able to contribute the manpower needed for low intensity operations.

If I'm wrong, please explain how. 75 - 40 crew - 20 aviation crew = 15 people left to be divided among Coast Guard LEDET, another helicopter, and unmanned systems supporting operations. This is one of many problems the Navy faces by intentionally making reduced crew size a priority, as opposed to letting the actual requirements in the field determine how many sailors you need.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Motion for Reconsideration: Act 2's "Large Capacity Ferry Vessel" is in fact an illusory closed class of one in context

Well, the thing looks rehashed, rushed and hastily written. Of lesser importance they misspell Bulgo as Bugo on page 8.

But of mention here. On page 11 they try to contest that "large capacity ferry vessel" under Act 2 is not an illusory closed class of one. They say "there are already dozens of large capacity ferry vessels that have been built, acquired, and put into active service worldwide."

On pages 19-20 in Footnote 4 they list a number of foreign ferries that transport at least 500 hundred people and 200 cars, but none of them would be legally allowed to operate between 2 U.S. ports. None of the ferry vessels they list in their Motion for Reconsideration of Act 2 would qualify as an Act 2 large capacity ferry vessel to operate in the U.S. other than the two intended ferry vessels under the one company covered here.

I'll state it again, there are 3 ferry vessels owned by the State of Washington that would qualify, but none of them are available for redeployment to Hawaii and they are not open ocean designs anyway. In fact, Act 2 should have referenced general classes of Coast Guard approved open ocean ferry designs. The Cat ferry vessel operating between Maine and Nova Scotia was made outside the U.S. and so cannot operate between 2 Hawaiian ports. That only leaves 2 large capacity ferry vessels able to operate in Hawaii during the life of Act 2, the Alakai and Huakai. Of these five vessels listed here, all of them took 2 years or more to build. If a new vessel had been started to be built as soon as Act 2 was passed, the new vessel would not have been finished in time before Act 2 would have sunset. "Large capacity ferry vessel" is in fact an illusory closed class of one and a part of special legislation that attempted to unconstitutionally reauthorize the funding and use of improvements to state land.

Imua! Hawaii Supreme Court!

Atty. Charley Foster of Kaua'i put the following links up to the Motion for Reconsideration and the Legislative leadership's amicus brief to that:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

...Motion for Reconsideration of the Superferry II decision, and Derrick DePledge was nice enough to respond with a copy. For those interested, I've posted it here (pdf). (It's a free hosting service and downloads can be slow)...

The Senate Majority Caucus Tweeted:

Hawaii State Legislature today (4/16) filed an Amicus brief in the Superferry Reconsideration. Here's the brief

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Missed this article...PBN on Operating Agreement, etc.

Christina Failma, PBN
The Hawaii Superferry dock resembles a bridge to nowhere as it sits idle
at Honolulu Harbor.
View Larger

Hawaii taxpayers could end up paying for most of the $40
million in harbor improvements carried out to accommodate
Hawaii Superferry, which removed its ship, the Alakai, from
Hawaiian waters on March 28.

It also is possible that Hawaii Superferry will be held
responsible for reimbursing the state. The state Department
of Transportation and the Attorney General's Office are
reviewing the enforceability of the state's operating
agreement with Superferry.

The state spent the $40 million, using general obligation
reimbursable bonds, to construct barges with ramps at
harbors in Honolulu, Kahului on Maui, and Kawaihae on the Big
Island. A ramp also was built for Kauai's Nawiliwili Harbor.

Under terms of the agreement, Hawaii Superferry was to
reimburse the state for the $40 million. A fee schedule
between the D.O.T. and Superferry called for minimum
monthly payments of $191,667, or 1 percent of gross
receipts, "less certain adjustments," for the first
three years.

The payments began Dec. 13, 2007, when Superferry resumed
its Honolulu-Kahului sailings following a court-ordered
suspension. Superferry had paid the state $2.6 million
when it halted service March 19. Service stopped after
the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a state law exempting
Superferry from an environmental impact statement was

"A lot depends on future events that are currently unknown,"
said Mike Formby, the D.O.T.'s deputy director of harbors.
"We don't know how long Superferry will be out of the
state, or how long the Chapter 343 review will take. So
we have not come up with a final analysis or assessment."

Formby was referring to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter
343, which calls for an environmental impact statement under
the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act.

"Our basic position is that, although Superferry has left the
market, we reserve all rights as to the enforceability of the
operating agreement," he said. "We are not conceding that it
is void or unenforceable."

The $40 million was used up faster than expected because of
repairs made to the Kahului barge, battered by rough winter
seas in 2007 and 2008.

The Kawaihae barge was rendered inoperable following the
October 2006 Big Island earthquake and towed to the protected
waters of Honolulu Harbor. The Kahului barge is expected to
join it shortly.

Only Superferry can use the barges, which were made specially
for the Alakai. Also, they are "foreign hulled," meaning they
do not qualify under the federal Jones Act for use by vessels
sailing directly between U.S. ports, Formby said.

It was the harbor improvements that triggered the
court-ordered environmental impact statement.

Belt Collins, which has a $1.3 million contract to conduct
the EIS, has halted work until the D.O.T. can assess what is
now required under Chapter 343 and state procurement law.

Formby said he expects the EIS to be completed within three
to six months.

"That $40 million will be satisfied over time," said Gary
North, chairman of the Hawaii Harbor Users Group, adding that
his members understand "everybody pays" for use of harbors.

Some lawmakers say they were worried all along about getting
stuck with the $40 million tab.

"Neighbor Island senators especially asked Superferry,
blatantly, what happens if it fails?" said Sen. Kalani English,
D-E.Maui-Molokai-Lanai. "We were told, 'Oh, we'll pay it back,
it's all going to pay off.' Those weren't the exact words, but
that was the general sense. And now this has happened and the
state has to pay for it."

English, now chairman of the Senate's transportation committee,
supports interisland ferries but opposed the Legislature's
decision to exempt Superferry from state law.

"If Superferry does get a military contract, which we know they
are pursuing, then the taxpayers of Hawaii have subsidized their
proof-of-concept experiment," English said. "That's what this
was, to figure out all the bugs and fix it."

Hawaii Superferry officials had little to say about the rest of
the $40 million or about the future of its operations in Hawaii.

"[There is] no clarity on those issues at this time," Hawaii
Superferry President and CEO Tom Fargo said through a

OK, here's a brainstorming idea for you ferry lovers

[Second Edition: Have made two paragraph additions at the bottom of this post.-Ed.]

Haven't fully evaluated this idea yet, but was just thinking about the 2 vessels that have been operated by TheBoat, the M/V Rachel Marie and the M/V Melissa Ann.

Why not us them for an interisland service, with DOT either taking over their lease or buying them from the City and County of Honolulu? Many states where ferries operate successfully, the State owns the ferries, like Alaska, Washington, and Texas to name a few.

The vessels used by TheBoat actually have many of the operational characteristics that could work logistically and financially for an interisland service, unlike the Alakai and Huakai who's scale, engines and capacity were inappropriate for the distances and market. Plus, most of the Chapter 343 EIS has already been done for TheBoat, maybe only a few slight changes would be needed on that.

Some would say the M/V Rachel Marie and M/V Melissa Ann might not be able to handle the channel conditions. To that I would say, worse case they just don't operate December through February. Maybe the State runs them only intra-island during the swell months. These two passenger only vessels otherwise fit all of the demands that Neighbor island critics have raised. Plus they can make the distance in a reasonable amount of time. They would allow the harbor improvements to continue to be used. You could charge at least $40 one-way per person and I believe fill the vessel most of the time and actually breakeven for the state. With only a 6 ft. draft the State might even use the old FAP routes.

More evaluation would need to be done to determine if this would truly be realistic, but just on the main constraints that caused HSF to fail, I think this would work.

Here's a video of TheBoat. The video gets good starting about about the 3:50 minute mark. Here are some pictures of TheBoat. TheBoat is just a little small, still would work well on some of the FAP routes to quieter destinations. There are also some very interesting 600 passengers only (no vehicles) fast ferries operating in Santa Catalina, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands to compare to.

Hope Kallai added the following comment to this idea, "
Awesome idea. Who owns them? City & County? Didn't they use Fed funds? The DEIS or whatever that prelim study was could be re-fashioned as a Programmatic EIS; then the whole project idea should really be put out to bid - with all the other ferry proposals given a chance to apply. After selection only a Supplemental (vessel-specific) EIS would need to be prepared."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Am looking for the full-text of the Gov's motion for reconsideration. By the report in today's paper it sounds like a pathetic pleading. Until get ahold of that, here is some related news:

"Council poised to sink TheBoat"
By B.J. Reyes Apr. 14, 2009

A $5 million subsidy for the Oahu commuter ferry, better known as TheBoat, was among the early
casualties as the City Council Budget Committee began
crafting the city's operating budget for the
fiscal year that starts July 1.

...The proposal to cut $5 million for TheBoat was suggested by four Council members. Since its
launch in September with help from a $5 million federal
grant, TheBoat has been plagued by
mechanical problems, which have led to
low ridership.

"Given our current fiscal picture, we cannot afford a $5 million system that costs taxpayers over
$120 a person for a round trip," Councilman Charles
Djou said. "We need to tighten our budget,
and TheBoat is beyond our
community's fiscal means."

Hannemann's administration is studying the ferry project and expects to release a report by the
end of the month. The mayor has said he would
discontinue the service if it proved too expensive...

You know, I think the authorities in Hawaii need somebody to help them evaluate what are realistic and what are not realistic potential ferries.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Springbored ponders over Austal's 'LCS-4' prospects

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is LCS-4 Sinking? What's Austal's Missing Contract?

Is LCS-4 in trouble? Austal is cutting a total of 62 employees...for an awfully interesting reason. From

The job cuts were due to work winding down on a vessel for Hawaii Superferry and the company not getting an expected contract on March 26, said Bill Pfister, Austal's vice president for external affairs.
As is usual for the industry, the cuts hit hard...and fast:

Laid-off workers will not get severance pay, and their benefits stop at midnight of their last day, Pfister said.

Jason Jetten, who was one of those let go, said he had been with the company as a fabricator for four years before Friday. "I was cutting a piece of plate, and the next thing I know I was packing my stuff up and going out the door," he said.

The only contracts I know that Austal Alabama's yard was expecting were...the LCS-4 and the JHSV. With Austal saying they missed an expected contract on March 26, just after LCS-3 was awarded and a spate of General Dynamics/Austal LCS "contract-is-being-negotiated" stories hit the web. Things got even murkier with Allison Stiller dashing water upon the LCS-4 contract negotiations, and, even more interestingly, on the 24th, this guy came a-calling:

Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley is due to visit the Alabama shipyard where General Dynamics is building its first ship on Tuesday, according to two of the sources.

The three sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on pending contracts.

Would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall for that meeting.

But remember, before all you LCS-haters celebrate the premature demise of the LCS-2 class, Hawaii Superferry got shuttered on mid-March, so maybe, with the delivery of the second Superferry--once expected in March 2009--halted, Austal is seeing some work disruption on the commercial side of the house...

...what is the deal? (Or where is the deal? Or where is the deal that wasn't?)

Is Austal simply hitting a hiccup with some expected Superferry work? Are the JHSV or LCS programs getting delayed? Or....might Lockheed be looking down both barrels of a 54-ship building program?...

Bits and pieces...Where IS the Alakai headed?

Some interesting bits of information. A national newspaper reporter was recently told by an executive of Austal-USA that they are "not scheduled to do work on the Alakai." The reporter was wondering then where is the Alakai going, in Mobile?

In a seperate report analyst Tim Colton asked this, " Austal's shipyard in Mobile... How exactly does that position her for future employment? And why to the shipyard, which has very little pier space, and not to some lay-up pier somewhere? Are there modifications and/or repairs required? If so, what? And why is the second Superferry still in Austal's yard and not in lay-up?"

Another little tidbit. Supposedly the Alakai is going to some shipyard in Mobile to have the ramp, etc. added. Other word from those in the local maritime industry is that there may be other work to be done as a result of what happened in last year's drydock.

Another tidbit. Austal in Mobile recently announced less than 100 layoffs as a result of "not getting a contract they were expecting." Meanwhile Austal in Western Australia over the past few weeks announced two big commercial ferry contracts to be built IN Western Australia.

Presumably the Alakai is going to be worked on in one of the shipyards in Mobile. Maybe a shipyard that hopes to support Austal-USA as has the Bender shipyard in Mobile. What other yard is in the area besides Austal and Bender?

Why, they might even hire some of the people who worked on the National Defense Features on the Huakai. Maybe even hire, in an orderly transition, some of those workers "laid off" by Austal. Would even be an opportunity for that third yard to show some history working with aluminium...something people are saying it hasn't done...And save costs under the same owner.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Regarding Environmental Review and 'Secondary Impacts'

Attorney Jesse Souki posted an outstanding analysis today, Environmental Review Without Secondary Impacts Analysis—Is Hawaii About to Throw Out the Baby with the Bathwater?
and Reappointment of LUC Commissioners; Environmental Council Member Resigns Under Protest, on his blog Hawaii Land Use Law & Policy.

A couple brief quotes from Mr. Souki's 'Secondary Impacts' Analysis:

In an odd twist to the Hawaii Superferry drama, it has been suggested that in order to save the Hawaii Superferry, secondary impact analysis should be removed from Hawaii’s environmental review process. See Momentum grows at Capitol to bring Superferry back to Hawaii and Former State Attorney General Has Plan to Save The Superferry. What would this mean for Hawaii and what’s at stake?...

With many good cites and concluding that:

The middle road. Throwing out secondary and cumulative analysis might be premature without further study. Other state environmental policy acts (“SEPA”) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”) require secondary and cumulative analysis in their environmental documents. Hawaii should strive to keep HEPA as consistent with NEPA as possible to facilitate coordination for projects that require both HEPA and NEPA documents. For the most part, our courts have deferred to NEPA decisions in federal courts as guidance for interpreting HEPA...

Recommend reading all of Souki's post.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Galrahn dissects LCS and Gates' lack of knowledge on it

Analysis like this from Galrahn is so good it's surprising it's available to the public:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More Interesting Gates Comments on LCS

Nice job by Matthew Yglesias for getting the word out about Gates's thoughts on the Littoral Combat Ship in a conference call today.

Spectrum is an important concept. The weighting from regular to irregular warfare in the budget is undeniable, but Gates said he didn’t want to see it as a binary choice. Instead “there is a spectrum of conflict” and the goal of the force needs to be to be able to shift up and down the spectrum.

Conversely, Gates is holding on to the Littoral Combat System project for the Navy even though the program has had a lot of cost overruns and so forth. Gates said that despite the problems “I think it has a capability we just have to have.” Specifically, the promise of a ship that’s not only agile, but relative cheap on a per-ship basis is large. “You don’t need a $5 billion ship to go after pirates,” Gates said.
Given the way the high end warship debate ended with a resounding thud Tuesday afternoon with the Navy's announcement (through Gene Taylor's office notably), it is crystal clear to this observer that the LCS is where the debate is not settled, and will rage on for FY 2010.

Gates is exactly right when he says “I think it has a capability we just have to have” but I think he is talking specifically about the unmanned systems, not the ship itself. In my opinion, that is what makes this an interesting conversation moving forward. If people keep asking Gates how the Littoral Combat Ship is actually a vessel designed for irregular warfare and low intensity warfare like the Navy claims, the Navy is going to eventually get asked to prove it.

Noah goes even further:
The Defense Secretary believes that price tag can come down. But, as opposed to our friend and naval analyst Galrahn, Gates believe the LCS "has a capability that we just have to have... It would have enormous value against fast boats like we see, for example, in the Persian Gulf." Even at an inflated price, it would still be more economical than other options the Navy uses today. "You don't need a $5 billion ship to go after pirates. You don't need a $5 billion ship necessarily to do a humanitarian mission. So its flexibility and its ability to get into tighter places than other ships that makes it more attractive."
I actually agree with Gates, the price tag will come down. There are enormous assumptions made on the price based on the first in class ships, both of which had some issues that are specific to those ships but won't exist in future ships.

Look, I love both Commander Don Gabrielson and Commander Kris Doyle, these are very, very smart officers, but when I was on USS Freedom (LCS 1) I did not have the impression they had really walked through the various intellectual layers necessary to explain how the LCS will do all the things their leadership has claimed it will do. CDR Doyle, who I suggest is the most important officer in regards to the LCS program going forward (just looking at the blue/gold time line here), was on the money IMO when she described how the LCS will probably operate more like an amphibious ship for unmanned systems than a frigate for force protection. I think better than anyone who ever gets quoted in the press from the Navy, she has the strategic concept of this platform exactly right.

The problem is she gets it, but no one out talking to the press discusses the LCS in that way, even Gates. I mean come on, Lockheed Martin executives call this the 21st century frigate while ignoring that every single other frigate in the world in the 21st century has more combat power than the LCS. Calling the LCS a frigate for marketing purposes is not wise, because the inaccuracy is going to stand out in wargames testing you know.

Gates is not going to like the way the Navy frames the defense of that ship, not at all if Congress decides to come after it, which we know is going to happen with Gene Taylor (D-Miss) already laying the groundwork for that. The intellectual basis for the LCS is very weak right now, indeed I still say my USS Langley analogy as an early mothership model is intellectually the best case that can be made, and I admit even my argument is very weak to justify 55 hulls. 26 hulls? Sure, replace the minesweepers with a better capability, but as a Perry replacement? Uhm, that is a very tough sell to anyone even moderately informed.

We need LCS for the unmanned mothership capability, no question, but when Gates figures out the LCS intended to brawl in the littorals is a thin skinned, barely manned, half a billion dollar modern schooner with a CONOP for littoral warfare that puts the ship over the horizon, instead of in the littorals, he might start asking tough questions about requirements.

And I still say the LCS is terribly designed to fight pirates without a major crew increase and the addition of a second H-60 on the often touted enormous flight deck, all of which will raise the cost of the ship. We fight pirates with boarding parties, which means sailors, and we fight war in the littorals with helicopters, and the LCS can only support 1 H-60. The LCS doesn't even have RHIBs on the MIW module for the boarding operations. Even on the modules the LCS does have room for RHIBS, the LCS CO still has to put more than 20% of his entire ships manpower on rubber boats to capture a handful of pirates, and for the record, last I heard none of the 40 core crew will be used for VBSS, meaning we have to use the helicopter and module crews for that. Is it wise to put the payload crews at risk, because without those crew members the LCS is a hollow shell.

I mean come on, the LCS is so vulnerable as a pirate fighter that a standard boarding operation with 2 RHIBs of 8 sailors each can go to shit, and if all those sailors are wounded, a warship in the US Navy essentially becomes mission incapable. That is a pretty extraordinary weakness for a warship that even the best estimates suggests is higher than half a billion dollars.

Bottom line, the LCS concept is not as well thought out as the total littoral solution Gates thinks it is, particularly in light of the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan regarding the necessity for manpower, sustained presence, and staying power when dealing with irregular forces in complex human terrains like the populated littorals.

I don't see the LCS issue going away until the Navy comes up with a more realistic approach to littoral warfare. I'm telling you guys, don't sleep on the Influence Squadrons, this really is the strategic idea of our time and that is the most important Proceedings article written since the 1000-ship Navy. To get lost on the parochial issues of force structure in that article, like so many who comment on ID tend to do (engineers!), is to misunderstand how an organizational construct like that has real potential to institutionalize IW into the Navy.

For the record, it is within the framework of something like that where the Littoral Combat Ship makes sense. The Navy needs a littoral strategy, not a technology solution for the littoral. I predict that Gates is going to figure this out very soon, which is going to make littoral warfare a major debate in the FY 2010 budget to hold off the wolves in Congress who are going to pound the LCS into tiny pieces. The Navy better have its intellectual counterpunches ready, or it is going to get ugly.

[photo me (Galrahn): On the bridge of USS Freedom doing 43.2 knots on Lake Ontario]

Malta Co. orders ferry very similar to Alakai and Huakai

The Honolulu Advertiser said that HSF officers were talking with this Malta ferry company a few weeks ago after the SC decision. And yet HSF neither leased nor sold a vessel to them. The vessel selected is almost the exact same as the Alakai and Huakai. This implies that HSF has a better deal well along the way for the Alakai and Huakai than what is mentioned in this article.

The distance between Malta and Sicily falls right under the maximum distance (70 miles) and time (2 hours) of one-way transit with the same revenue generating load that makes this particular design and propulsion systems' fuel consumption commercially viable, in the current and recent petro-environment. But, I still like the name Maltese Falcon better.


Virtu Ferries have signed a contract for the building of a new catamaran by Austal Ships Pty Ltd., of Western Australia.

The vessel will be one of the largest aluminium hull catamarans in Europe, the company said.

The new catamaran, an Austal Auto Express 107 will be named Jean de la Valette and will be delivered in August 2010. It will replace the Maria Dolores on the Malta-Sicily route.

Virtu Ferries said that the Austal 107 was chosen following a long and rigorous selection process; it was judged the best vessel for the route due to its versatility and all round efficiency, as well as being tailor-made for the route’s requirements, based on passenger feedback.

It will have a seating capacity for 800 passengers on two decks, with three catering outlets and a central shopping area. The passenger decks will offer a passenger-friendly seating density of two to three seats per row, as well as an upper deck lounge area overlooking the vessel’s bow. A central staircase will lead to a first class seating area featuring a separate catering facility and two VIP lounges. Outdoor seating will also be available for more than 110 passengers, in both economy and VIP lounges.

An additional new feature, particular to this vessel at the request of Virtu, is a dedicated lounge for commercial vehicle drivers providing a restful environment.

The vehicle deck will carry 230 cars or 45 cars and 342 truck lane metres equivalent to 23 trailers. This will enable Virtu Ferries to efficiently service the growing needs of private passengers with cars and campers, tour operators with coaches and commercial vehicles and trailers with accompanied cargo.

The vessel will be certified to carry dangerous cargo such as LPG, Diesel and Petrol in bulk.

Virtu Ferries managing director Henri Saliba said “The demand for cargo traffic between Malta and Sicily since we joined the EU has exceeded our expectations. This is a €60 million investment that will cater for the demands of the Maltese commercial, industrial and tourism sectors into the future and provide a scheduled year round service."

The vessel will be powered by 4 MTU 20V 8,000 M71L Diesel Engines at 9,100kW each driving Rolls-Royce KaMeWa propulsion water jets, giving an approximate speed of 39 knots. The latest sea-keeping technology, Austal Ride Control, will be installed for maximum passenger comfort in heavy weather conditions.

The vessel will be built in accordance with the requirements and under the survey of Det Norske Veritas, conforming to International Maritime Organisation HSC Code, and Malta Flag State and Italian Port State Regulations. Registration, as with all Virtu vessels, will be under the Malta Flag.

Virtu Ferries have been operating high speed ferries between Malta and Sicily since 1988.

The Jean de la Valette will have an overall length of 106.5 metres and a beam of 23.8 metres.

Hanabusa, Hemmings, Slom totally in the dark on yesterdays D.C. happenings

Why would a company want to bring a business back to Hawaii that was losing millions of dollars a year through not enough demand when instead with two new leases announced yesterday by DoD they could lease them to the military and make a little bit better than breakeven? Lose massive amounts of money vs. make money? I don't know, man, that's a tough choice.

Video on this:

The Plan Worked Perfectly

The CNO along with a bunch of salty dogs read Galrahn. I couldn't have said it any better than below. One of Galrahn's contacts got a recent pic of Huakai with ramp extended. Click on it to enlarge. Also below is a recent pic of LCS-2, been in hiding getting worked on...

The Plan Worked Perfectly

I was thinking about the tale of the Hawaii Superferry while reading this report by Phillip Ewing at Navy Times.

The Navy will also lease four joint high speed vessels next year, instead of two, until DoD takes delivery of its own ships in 2011, Gates said. The Navy leases high-speed catamarans, such as the Swift, now on a humanitarian deployment in the Caribbean, but has ordered its own purpose-built JHSVs from the Austal shipyard in Mobile, Ala.
Gee, I wonder where the DoD will find 2 spare high speed vessels to lease?

HT to Dave Hart for recent photo of Huakai from March.

Offshore Patrol Cutter Update - LCS Still in Play

I wanted to check out what this was about before posting on it specifically. I know this is over two weeks old, but it is important and I wanted to know more before discussing.

Under pressure to cut the cost of its Littoral Combat Ship program, the U.S. Navy is studying whether to lower the required speed and swap out fuel-hogging propulsion systems, said a former senior Navy analyst and another source informed about the effort....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Major announcement today on JHSV and LCS by Republican Carryover Request to the Obama Administration

Listen from the 7:00 to 7:45 minute marks in this video. Leased HSV's goes from 2 to 4. No surprise as to which 2 new leased HSV's that will be. Gonna have to give them a new paint job and swap out those "first class" seats though. No need for Mike to hurry with an incomplete EIS anymore. Although, might want to add measuring for DU dust to it.

Ferry Tales and an Affront to Population-based Political Power Defeated by Home Rule

My comments are below the article.


"Ferry tale"
There's plenty of blame to go around, but Hawaii court rights ship in end
By Michael Leidemann / Special to the Star-Bulletin
POSTED: Apr 05, 2009

The Hawaii Superferry is gone, probably for good, but the political, legal, financial and ethical stink it leaves behind is going to cling to the islands for a long time. You might as well get used to it, and if you're still trying to figure out who's responsible, this book might help...

Michael Leidemann's reference to the video, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" is quite appropriate. I believe the point he is comparing with the book Superferry Chronicles to the above video is that each story was complex and multifacited with many active culpable characters. At the end of the video, they evaluate who is to blame for the whole affair, just as authors Paik and Mander do at the end of the book. Both do a good job in evaluating who was to blame.

As for the book and it's accuracy, recently I finished going through and marking up the entire book for every single little inaccuracy. What I would say is that the word choice and slight errors do not materially detract from the overall correct direction of the book.

In particular the accurate strengths of the book are the transcribed testimonies in the first third of the book that people on Oahu would not have been able to read verbatim until this book's printing. The chronological timeline in the second third of the book has a few slight errors, not of time, but of description. But, no other printed source sought to compile such a complete timeline all in one source, so that readers can better understand what really happened on this issue. For taking the time to compile that chronologic timeline, the author's should be commended. The last third of the book, of guest written chapters, Insider Reports, written mostly by experts and professionals are all consistently accurate with very few errors of any kind.

To me the most interesting thing about this issue was that Hawaii Superferry was not making money, in fact they were losing money to the tune of many millions of dollars a year, because Oahu people were not riding the thing as much as they like to talk and comment about it. If Oahu people had actually been riding it as much as they like to defend it in the media, HSF would have put up more of a fight to stay. But, why fight for a market that doesn't really follow through and use your service beyond a meager average of a quarter to a third of capacity.

The real insight though into this whole issue was that big city people have gotten use to solely their population determining public policy issues for the whole state, but on this issue that assumption was surprisingly and shockingly called into question. Underlying all of this is that what Oahu people really take affront to is that their population bias over Neighbor Island consultation and 'home rule' on issues such as this was effectively called into question and against all odds defeated.

Aloha, Brad

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hawaii Ferry History: FAP routes, SeaFlite, Superferry...

Interesting and accurate overview of the recent and past ferry situation in Hawaii. This was called to my attention by Hope Kallai of Kaua'i. The information comes with permission from Oscar Voss' website at Hawaii Highways: . I particularly found interesting the possible DOT ferry routes that Oscar found and documents below:

5.5 Are there auto ferries between the islands?

Not right now. The Hawaii Superferry provided auto and passenger transport between Oahu, Maui, and (very briefly) Kauai from August 2007 to March 2009, with plans to resume service to Kauai and add service to the Big Island. As discussed below, all Superferry service has been indefinitely suspended, and probably will not resume (if at all) until 2010.

Pre-Superferry, and even when the Superferry was operating, local residents flew a lot between the islands on local airlines providing jet service between the four most-populated islands, and smaller planes also serving the other inhabited islands except privately-owned Niihau. They rented cars as needed when visiting other islands, generally at "kama'aina" discount rates restricted to Hawaii residents. On the rare occasions residents moved their cars between islands (such as for an inter-island change of residence), the cars usually went by barge or freighter.

In the mid-1970s, SeaFlite operated private passenger-only hydrofoil ferries between most of the populated islands (all but Lanai and Niihau). However, I understand that they never were very popular, largely because the ferry boats were prone to breakdowns, but also because it took several hours to travel between islands, through deep, unprotected waters that are rougher than the sheltered waters mainly used by the extensive auto ferry systems of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Not helping to smooth the ride through the rough waters was the relatively small size of the SeaFlite hydrofoils, which unlike typical auto ferries could and did use small-boat harbors (Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, Maalaea on Maui) rather than be limited to the larger deep-draft commercial harbors.

By the way, Hawaii DOT assigned Federal Aid Primary route numbers 6-10 to a network of ferry routes. These apparently were intended for a state-run auto ferry system the state had been noodling over throughout the 1960s and 1970s, not the short-lived SeaFlite passenger ferry system of the mid-1970s, which didn't always follow the FAP ferry routes. Here are the assigned FAP ferry routes, as of 1976 (from Hawaii DOT's Highway Systems Maps that year for all the islands), compared to the corresponding SeaFlite routes (per 1977 Hawaii Visitor Bureau maps), and the routes that the Hawaii Superferry served or planned to serve:

FAP FAP route SeaFlite route Superferry route
6 Honolulu - Nawiliwili (Kauai) Honolulu - Nawiliwili (Kauai) Honolulu - Nawiliwili (Kauai)
7 Honolulu - Kaunakakai (Molokai) Honolulu - Kaunakakai (Molokai) --
8 Kaunakakai (Molokai) - Kahului (Maui) Honolulu - Maalaea (Maui) Honolulu - Kahului (Maui)
9 Kahului (Maui) - Hilo (Big Island) -- --
10 Kahului (Maui) - Kawaihae (Big Island) Maalaea (Maui) - Kailua-Kona (Big Island) Honolulu - Kawaihae (Big Island)

There are private ferries between Lahaina in west Maui, and Lanai and (sometimes) Molokai. Hawaii DOT has in recent years tested a hydrofoil ferry from various points in west Oahu to Honolulu, to help relieve congestion on Interstate H-1. But these also are all passenger-only ferries.

Heightened post-9/11 airport security, which made interisland air travel less convenient than before, and also the planned merger (since called off) of two major interisland airlines, spurred renewed interest in inter-island ferries. A private company, Hawaii Superferry, worked with the state to develop an interisland ferry system that would carry cars and trucks as well as passengers. In January 2004, it contracted for construction of two new high-speed catamaran ferries. Construction of the first one was completed in January 2007, and it arrived in the islands in summer 2007.

The Superferry attempted to begin regular operation from Oahu to Maui, and to Kauai, in late August 2007, and indeed made two sailings to Maui and one to Kauai. But service was put on hold thereafter due to a variety of legal and other obstacles, including a last-minute Hawaii Supreme Court decision invalidating an exemption from environmental review the Superferry had relied on, the resulting injunction blocking the Superferry's continued use of Maui's Kahului harbor, and vociferous waterborne protestors blocking the Superferry's attempted second trip to Kauai's Nawiliwili harbor. The Hawaii legislature then passed a law designed to clear the legal obstacles to a restart of Superferry service.

Hawaii Superferry restarted once-daily service between Oahu and Maui on December 13, 2007, with a scheduled running time of 3 hours 45 minutes from Oahu to Maui, and 3 hours on the return trip. The company also began in May 2008 to offer a second voyage in each direction, four afternoons each week in peak season and at least once a week in the winter. Twice-daily service to and from Maui had been originally planned to begin in 2009 with the arrival of the second ferry vessel, but Hawaii Superferry decided to accelerate those plans, perhaps expecting that once-a-day service to and from Kauai would generate less business than adding an extra daily trip on the Maui route, which allowed commercial customers to take their trucks to Maui in the morning and return that evening, without the overnight stay required by the old schedule. Due to economic conditions, the Superferry held off until at least 2010 using the second ferry vessel for Hawaii service, which would have added service to the Big Island (once improvements and earthquake damage repairs were completed to the Big Island's Kawaihae harbor), and possibly also resumed service to Kauai. As far as I know, extension of Superferry service to Lanai and Molokai islands was never seriously considered, due to their small populations and limited harbor facilities.

The Superferry was used mainly by local residents and businesses taking their own vehicles, as well as local and tourist foot passengers. Most tourists still traveled by air among the islands, changing rental cars as needed. Due to a quirk in state law, the Superferry cannot transport rental cars (or other vehicles) without written permission of the registered vehicle owner. However, some rental car companies allowed their vehicles on the Superferry, with some even allowing one-way rentals. I took a National rental car on the Superferry round-trip between Maui and Oahu in January 2009, choosing a round-trip rather than a one-way rental since the one-way surcharge for the companies allowing one-way rentals was at least $400, much more than the one-way return trip fare for vehicle and passenger.

Superferry service was abruptly and indefinitely suspended in March 2009, a few days after the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the 2007 law allowing the Superferry to resume operations before completing state environmental reviews. At that point, the Superferry was at least a year away from completing those reviews, and couldn't afford to have its existing ferry vessel (plus the almost-completed second vessel it had on order) idle that long. State legislative leaders decided against pursuing a new law to help the Superferry continue operating, since a new law focused on helping the Superferry would likely have the same constitutional problem the state supreme court found with the old law, and there was no appetite for broader revisions to state environmental laws that could pass constitutional muster but might have unwanted effects on non-Superferry projects.

The Superferry will try to find alternate uses for its two ferry vessels, probably in non-Hawaiian markets. It is leaving the door open to returning to Hawaii if and when all the environmental issues are resolved in its favor. However, it is uncertain whether or when that will happen (unlikely before 2010), or that the Superferry will return to Hawaii even if can legally do so.