Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Story Behind False Killer Whales

From: http://honoluluweekly.com/cover/2010/02/truth-or-consequences/

"Truth or consequences"
False killer whales are disappearing from our waters faster than the Hawaiian monk seal
by Christopher Pala Feb 24, 2010

Two decades ago off the Kona coast of the Big Island, Dan McSweeney spotted a pod of 15-foot-long false killer whales jumping high out of the water and doing belly flops, a favorite hunting technique apparently designed to scare or confuse their prey. He sped over in his Boston Whaler and slipped into the water with a small air tank and a camera.

“I went down to 100 feet,” he recalls. “One of the whales racing toward me, he was holding the back half of a big yellowfin that must have weighed 150-pounds. He stopped suddenly about four feet away and released the tuna, which came floating toward me. I figured it was some kind of offering, so I took it. Then he dived under me, made a big circle and came back to the same spot and stared at me. He looked like he wanted it back, so I pushed it over. He took it and went off. I took a picture as he was swimming away with a few of his buddies.”

“It was one of those magical moments you never forget,” adds McSweeney, who has been studying marine mammals for 40 years and heads the Wild Whale Research Foundation in Holualoa...

>>>Rest of Article>>>

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Not looking so good for Austal on LCS contract...

Adm. on LCS decision, "all about procurement cost," w/cost cap of $480 million per ship & GD/Austal LCS-2 costing over $700 million, Lockheed/Martin LCS-1 looking like a winner:

From: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1819337020100218?type=marketsNews

"Cost is critical factor in LCS competition-US Navy"
Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:04pm EST
By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Cost will be the critical factor the U.S. Navy uses to judge competing designs from General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) for a new class of fast, flexible, shallow-water warships, a top admiral said on Thursday.

Rear Admiral William Landay, program executive officer for Navy ships, said both designs met the Navy's requirements for its new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and the deciding factor would be procurement cost, even if one design offered certain advantages.

"While there are a number of factors in our RFP (request for proposals) ... in the end, for this particular acquisition, the cost of that ship is critically important to us, and that was our key overarching driver," Landay told reporters after addressing a conference hosted by Aviation Week magazine...

But at this point, procurement cost was the Navy's primary concern, given its plan to buy 55 of the ships and a congressional cost cap of $480 million per ship. "We're going to downselect to one, and the cost is going to be a critical piece of that. It's just the reality of it," Landay said.

The Navy gave industry the final terms for the competition in mid-January, and bids are in mid-March. It will pick a single winner to build 10 ships and combat systems for five more in late spring or early summer, Landay said...>>>Rest of Article>>>

Monday, February 15, 2010

What other bloggers are saying about these vessels

Interesting the knowledgeable comparisons that are made in the following two recent blog posts:

Mulling the LCS down-select: | USNI Blog
By Defense Springboard
If LCS-1 wins the initial down-select, the JHSV catamaran becomes a viable platform. (And given the minimum-cost focus of the LCS RfP–LCS-1 may well end up winning the LCS contract.) In that case, the JHSV gets a wide-open niche to go ...
USNI Blog - http://blog.usni.org/

Information Dissemination: JHSVs Are Not Coastal Patrol Vessels
By Galrahn
You'll see, for example, improvements at the low end because we've stabilized the LCS program and increased the Joint High Speed Vessel program quite significantly, to 23 vessels. There was a big debate within the department on patrol ...
Information Dissemination - http://www.informationdissemination.net/

The following were a couple of interesting articles from last week on the JHSV. Recommend reading the one from the 9th:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Revised Text of HB 2667 - From a State Authority to a Study That's Already Been Done, Twice Before

Interesting that to save face Souki wanted to turn this into a study that's already been done. Enterprise Honolulu did a study on the ferry for the Legislature in 2004 and Market Scope Inc. also did a similarly applicable study for the PUC. Interesting, both of them have been taken down from the Internet since the entity went bankrupt, but people still have the .pdf copies of both.

Now, when there's not enough money for kids here to have 5 days of school a week, we're contemplating spending more money on a study that has already been done, not once, but twice before? Here's the most recent version of Souki's face saving bill. Souki, by the way, says it's gonna "sail" through the Finance Committee...it's next stop. We'll see about that:

From: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2010/lists/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2667


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2667

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2010

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII






BILL FOR AN ACT


RELATING TO FERRIES.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The State of Hawaii is made up of a chain of islands, six of which have major population centers. Unlike other states, Hawaii does not have the benefit of being linked to other states through the federal interstate highway system or a network of intersecting state and local highways and roads.

With the exception of slow, time-consuming interisland shipping and barge operations for the transportation of property between the islands, the only link between the islands for the transportation of persons is air transportation, with our present reliance on two interisland carriers and a few smaller commuter operations. However, this reliance on air transportation may be misplaced. With the exception of the island of Hawaii, each of the neighbor islands is served by only one airport, and each may be subjected to severe operational interruption in the event of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake. Even the Hickam Air Force Base-Honolulu international airport complex, with its location along the shoreline on Oahu may be operationally shut down by a natural disaster. By way of example, had the airport at Lihue been shut down operationally in the aftermath of Hurricane Iniki, it would have taken days, if not weeks, before any major aid and relief in the form of water, food, medical supplies, and rescue workers could have reached the island. Hawaii is too reliant on its present slow water carriers and air carriers in the event of a major natural disaster.

While the Hawaii superferry operation had its shortcomings, rocky start, and questionable financial forecast, it proved to be a very successful mode of transportation of both persons and property between the islands of Maui and Oahu. It was the missing link in the transportation system between the islands that is so essential for the health, safety, and well-being of the people of Hawaii.

The purpose of this Act is to require the department of transportation to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide ferry system to provide the necessary and essential additional missing link for the carriage of persons and property between the islands of the State.

SECTION 2. (a) The department of transportation shall conduct a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a statewide ferry system and a Hawaii state ferry system authority as the primary agency for oversight and regulation of the statewide ferry system.

(b) The department shall study various types of ferry systems, including passenger-only and passenger, automobile, and cargo ferry systems, that the department determines are suitable for operations within Hawaiian waters, taking into account such parameters as vessel design and speed, passenger capacity, cargo capacity, automobile capacity, availability of smaller vessels for transportation between the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, and compatibility with harbor infrastructure. The study shall also include:

(1) An analysis of potential costs and revenue of a statewide ferry system, as well as economic, social, and physical or other effects upon residents of and visitors to Hawaii;

(2) Any impact a statewide ferry system would have on the state and the counties;

(3) Information on the financing of a statewide ferry system, including the establishment of rates, fees, rents, charges, or any other payments or costs associated with a statewide ferry system;

(4) Information on the development of a special fund for the financial self-sustainability of the statewide ferry system; and

(5) Information on the impact a statewide ferry system would have on the other water carriers in the state.

(c) The study shall also include the following information on the development of a Hawaii state ferry system authority:

(1) The composition of the authority;

(2) The rights, duties, powers, and obligations of the authority in developing, coordinating, and implementing state policies and direction for the safe transportation of persons and property between the Hawaiian islands; and

(3) The ability of the authority to eliminate or reduce barriers to travel between the Hawaiian islands and provide a positive and competitive business environment.

(d) The department shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any necessary legislation, to the legislature, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2011 regular session.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2010.


Report Title:

Transportation; Ferry System Study

Description:

Requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide ferry system and the Hawaii State Ferry System Authority for the operation of a ferry system between the islands. (HB2667 HD1)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Some things noticed in HB2667, the "Ferry Bill"

Quoting in order from the measure at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2010/bills/HB2667_.pdf:

"While the Hawaii superferry operation had its shortcomings, rocky start, and questionable financial forecast, it proved to be a very successful mode of transportation of both persons and property between the islands of Maui and Oahu."

Actually, it did not. The financial failings were because of the amount of fuel consumed by these particular vessels, the distances involved, and low ridership partly due to conditions. These were intrinsic to it's failure. Also, why the lower case on "superferry" and why the slang "rocky." Already we have indications that this bill was not professionally written, out of Souki's Office?

"At minimum, the authority shall operate one high speed passenger and vehicular ferry vessel, with a minimum capacity of four hundred passengers and __ hundred vehicles, capable of operating at thirty knots or more, for the carriage of passengers and property between the major islands, and other small vessels, as needed, for service to the between the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai and other routes."

Interesting key limitations and exclusions in this paragraph. First, notice that this has to be a "high speed" ferry. Also notice that it has to be able to carry "vehicles." The high speed, vehicular ferry is an uncommon combination throughout the whole U.S. There are only a few vessels in the U.S. that meet that requirement. It also goes to the crux of two of the key points of contention with the HSF vessels. But further, notice the requirement of at least "four hundred passengers and __ hundred vehicles" capacity. That differs from the unconstitutional Act 2 that required 500 passengers and 200 vehicles capacity, a key point that made it unconstitutional. The 400/100 opens it up to more vessels in the U.S. that meet that requirement, but none of them are high speed ferries except for the Akakai, Huakai, and The Cat (The Cat not made in the U.S.). The 400/100 requirement might though qualify smaller fast ferries (outside the U.S./or yet to be made) that might better match the operational requirements of the fuel consumption/distances travelled between the Hawaiian Islands.

"§ -4 Initial operations. (a) The authority, as soon as practicable, shall engage in communications with the United States Department of Transportation and the United States Maritime Administration relating to federal funding assistance and the possible purchase or lease of the former Hawaii superferry vessels Alakai and Huakai or other ayailable suitable vessels to commence its operations."

First, notice again the lower case "superferry." Also notice the sloppy misspelling of "ayailable" from the original. But also a point to be clear on about the quote, "or other ayailable suitable vessels," at present there are no other qualified fast ferry vessels made in the U.S. that meet the requirements of this bill, other than the Alakai and Huakai, so that last open-ended statement is intentionally vague and deceptive. But also it is clear from the above paragraph that the drafters of this in the Legislature hope for some sort of sweetheart preferential treatment and maybe even funding from the U.S. DOT, MARAD, or the Federal Government in general. That's the Obama Federal Government that just proposed more than a trillion dollar deficit for the coming year and the foreseeable future, not having included this pork project in their proposals. This is just "passing the buck" on fiscal responsibility by those who vote for this bill. Either that or we are talking about state subsidies for a money losing service over properly funding things such as public education...

"The authority shall have access on a priority basis into all harbors and small boat facilities operated by the department and the department of land and natural resources..."

So a key aspect of this bill would be subsidizing a state run ferry service, most likely at a loss, to compete with a number of private sector companies by water and air...

"The authority shall have all the rights, obligations, and duties of a common carrier of persons and property in its ferry system operations, including the right to a certificate of public convenience and necessity..."

Who is to determine that? The Legislature or the PUC? Will you study that to determine if there is really 'need'? Or just vacantly declare it so in this bill?

"SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2010."

Good LUCK with that.

Status of this bill:
HB2667 Status
Written testimony thusfar:
HB2667_TESTIMONY_TRN_02-08-10_ Testimony
Copy of the bill:
View PDF of measure text

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, almost no lessons learned...back from the dead?

Will write more on this soon, meanwhile check out the links:

Hawaii State Legislature
2010 Regular Session
HB2667

Measure Title: RELATING TO FERRIES.
Report Title: Transportation; Ferry System
Description: Establishes the Hawaii state ferry system and the Hawaii state ferry system special fund for the operation of a ferry system between the islands. ($)
Companion:
Package: None
Current Referral: TRN, FIN
Introducer(s): SOUKI, AWANA, SAY

Date
Status Text
1/25/2010HPending introduction.
1/27/2010HIntroduced and Pass First Reading.
1/27/2010HReferred to TRN, FIN, referral sheet 7
2/4/2010HBill scheduled to be heard by TRN on Monday, 02-08-10 9:00am in House conference room 309.
2/8/2010HThe committees on TRN recommend that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes were as follows: 11 Ayes: Representative(s) Souki, Awana, Aquino, Hanohano, Keith-Agaran, Nakashima, Rhoads, Saiki, Takumi, Yamashita, Pine; Ayes with reservations: none; Noes: none; and 1 Excused: Representative(s) M. Lee.

Friday, February 5, 2010

NEPA EIS for JHSV

From: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/nepa/topics00.html

Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements
Joint High Speed Vessel

U.S. Army Environmental Command seeking Comments on JHSV's in Guam, Hawaii, San Diego and Seattle

From: http://www.guampdn.com/article/20100204/NEWS01/2040302/Guam-may-host-Army-fast-ships

"Guam may host Army fast ships"
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno • Pacific Daily News • February 4, 2010

Guam is one of several areas being considered as a station for up to a dozen high-speed catamaran-style military ships each capable of transporting more than 300 people per ship, according to an Army Environmental Command announcement.

Hawaii, San Diego and Seattle are also being considered, according to the command's announcement, which was issued as an advertisement in the Pacific Daily News to solicit public comments.

A cooperative effort between the Navy and the Army, the Joint High Speed Vehicles, or JHSVs will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, vehicles and equipment, according to an earlier Defense Department announcement of the program on defenselink.mil.

"JHSVs will be capable of transporting 700 short tons (within) 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, and can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank," according to the Defense Department.

These ships all give commanders the ability to roll on a company with full gear and equipment, or roll on a full infantry battalion if used only as a troop transport, haul it intra-theater distances, then move their shallow draft safely into austere ports to roll them off, according www.defenseindustrydaily.com.

Initial uses of the high-speed vessels have led to a $1.6 billion program called the Joint High Speed Vessel, which could involve up to 10 ships, according to defenseinustrydaily.com.

The Army Environmental Command notice for public comment says up to 12 Joint High Speed Vessels will be stationed.

TO COMMENT