Monday, May 31, 2010

What's that "Giant Sucking Sound"?


Giant sucking sound

Don't look for shipbuilding executive Richard McCreary to book any summer vacation plans along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

McCreary is president of Wisconsin's Marinette Marine, which is competing with Mobile's Austal USA for a lucrative contract to build Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy.

McCreary told a business luncheon in Madison, Wis., last week that the contract could bring thousands of jobs to northeast Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"If we win this contract, the giant sucking sound you hear will be people (who work in shipyards) leaving the Gulf Coast to come up here," said McCreary, according to

Friday, May 28, 2010

Superferry Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Cancelled Yesterday‏‏

Here was how I summarized it to a friend after reviewing the following two docs. I may be simplifying it, but:

The bankruptcy representative asked the PUC to cancel the CPCN because Superferry does not have the finances to perform some of the obligations under the CPCN and this needs to be cancelled so that the bankruptcy can be completed. The PUC approved it, and closed the docket on the Superferry yesterday. So basically somebody from the private sector who might try to come in again and operate under the Superferry's prior charter will not be able to do so (unless the PUC reverses it's decision?). The process would have to begin again, and that was about a 2 year process with public input again. Superferry is completely dead. The ships will be auctioned by MARAD soon.

The full-text docs are:
03/10/10 Request to Surrender CPCN
05/27/10 Order Approving Voluntary Surrender of CPCN

Other related news today on this otherwise old story:


Updated at 5:06 p.m., Friday, May 28, 2010
"Lingle criticizes Hannemann over Hawaii Superferry remarks"
Associated Press

HONOLULU — Gov. Linda Lingle is criticizing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann over his remarks about her handling of the Superferry controversy. Hannemann, the mayor of Honolulu, contended Thursday Lingle will not allow his proposed commuter rail project to move forward while she is in office. Lingle is now reviewing the project's environmental impact study. Hannemann said the irony is Lingle "blew the Superferry" because she didn't want to conduct a full environmental report on the interisland vessel. Lingle said in a statement Friday that Hannemann's comments were "misinformed and patently false." She says the state Supreme Court blocked the Superferry in March 2009 with an unprecedented reading of state environmental law.

I say, let 'em Duke it out. I'm only hangin' around this story long enough to find out who buys the vessels at auction and at what price. Otherwise, I'm done wit' dis' story...
A - L - O - H - A!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

US moves to arrest Hawaii Superferry vessels

Auction, huh? Silent or closed auction? This could answer a lot of questions about who finally gets the value out of these. If they sell for a low-ball price to certain individuals, then finally things could make sense that otherwise never did. The ships are worth no less than $160 million total, probably more with all of the internal additions. If not the DoD, look for the buyer to be in a company name controlled by a silent individual.

US moves to arrest Hawaii Superferry vessels

THE US government has taken the first step towards an eventual court-ordered auction of two catamarans formerly owned by the bankrupt Hawaii Superferry, by securing arrest warrants against the two ships in Virginia to recoup amounts due.

The move comes one year after Hawaii Superferry entered Chapter 11 protection. It was not immediately clear whether...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Austal closing Tasmanian factory - axing 116 staff

Interesting Austal statement today on closing their Tasmanian operations:

"We were trying to understand whether this trend was driven by the global financial crisis or more than that. We have concluded it is more than that. It is permanent and therefore we have had to make this decision."

Austal closing Tassie doors
Tasmania Mercury
SHOCKED workers at Austal's Margate shipyard have been told they will lose their jobs by September. Twenty staff were laid off without notice yesterday and ...
See all stories on this topic
ABC Online
Austal closes Tas factory, axes jobs
ABC Online
(ABC News: Sarah Bester) The shipbuilder Austal is closing its Tasmanian shipyard and sacking 116 staff. The Western Australian company says it will shed ...
Govt denies ignoring business plight
ABC Online
Lara Giddings says the Austal board would have made the decision to close regardless of what the Government offered. (ABC News: Sarah Bester) The Tasmanian ...
See all stories on this topic
Austal closes shipyard, 121 staff let go
WA Business News (subscription)
Shipbuilder Austal will close its Tasmanian operations at Margate in a few months leaving 121 employees out of work as the company amends operations ...
International Business Times AU
Austal shifts to small vessels; cuts jobs
International Business Times AU
Shipbuilder Austal confirmed on Wednesday it will have a total transformation as it discontinues its Tasmanian shipyard operations and terminates 116 ...
Austal to close its Tasmanian shipyard
Marine Log
Austal has announced what it terms "a rationalization of its Australian operations and workforce as a result of the impact of changed market demand ...
Austal closing Tassie doors
Tasmania Mercury
Austal took over the Margate yard from North West Bay Ships in February, 2007. The shipbuilder, which has lucrative defence contracts both locally and in the U.S. ...
120 ship workers axed
Tasmania Examiner
BY RACHEL WILLIAMS Austal sales and operations manager Andrew Bellamy told the ... Austal posted a $15.5 million half-year profit after income tax...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Austal interfering with a small radio station in Mobile, AL?


"WMOB-AM Mobile to relocate antenna due to ground clutter"

Christian-formatted WMOB-AM Mobile, AL says its signal is being hindered by Austal Shipyard and AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training) expansions. 82-year-old owner Buddy Tucker says Austal's and AIDT's new buildings (Maritime Science Center) are warping the station's coverage area. At the western end of the Mobile Bay Causeway, between a massive shipyard building and the construction site for a new state jobs training center, is the location of WMOB’s antenna site, says The Mobile Press-Register.

To improve things, Tucker plans to relocate east on the Causeway to the location of the former WLVV-AM (later WNPL-AM), vacant since Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife have paid $450,000 for the property.

To accomplish the move, Tucker tells the paper the neighbors need to chip in: "We are going to have to depend on getting some money from these people," Tucker said. "We're just small-time, compared to them."...

"This situation is very much akin to a guy who's got a great view of the ocean," Bill Pfister, vice president of external affairs for the Australian-owned Austal, told the paper. Such a guy would have no recourse if someone legally built a house blocking the view.”

Tucker has been blind since he was 15, and a radio broadcaster since he was 16. He started as an announcer on some of the South's most historic stations, moving on to work as a manager launching two Christian stations in Iowa. After that, he bought WMOB, which at the time was off the air. Since, he’s added a station in DeLand, FL, and WTOF-AM in Bay Minette, AL.

But the plot thickens: the interference problem began two years ago, when Austal started building a manufacturing facility west of the site that WMOB rents from the state. Workers who were erecting steel kept getting "zapped" when they touched the beams, Pfister said. And a copper phone wire kept picking up religious programming.

"We finally figured out it was radio energy," Pfister said.

Asked to turn off the station during Austal's construction, Tucker said that he declined.

Tucker said that the beams and walls in Austal's structure, which has some nine acres under roof, reflect WMOB's broadcast, bouncing its signal away from its normal southwesterly course. WMOB’s directional antenna avoids contact with stations in Monroeville, AL and Pensacola, FL.

Because of the deflected signal, WMOB is out of compliance with its FCC license, although regulators have granted waivers while it works to solve the problem. The FCC hasn't gotten any complaints. Tucker said he's received calls from listeners in southern Mobile and Baldwin counties who used to be able to hear the signal but can't any more...

The station has limited leverage. It operates on land leased from the state on a month-to-month basis, and could be ordered to clear out within 30 days. AIDT is likely to have to plow up some of the copper wiring underground that aids AM broadcasting to build a seawall around its new property.

Austal, meanwhile, plans to build an administration building on the WMOB end of its property, and Pfister said that Austal could probably get the FCC to force WMOB to shut down its transmitter if it intruded on Austal's operations.

Tucker said that he is frustrated that the problems have dragged on for almost two years, and fears that Austal and AIDT are trying to wait him out... >>>Full Article Here>>>

See also, for graphic and comments: