Monday, September 19, 2011

What's up with the Ferries?

U.S. weighs four bids on Hawaiian superferries

The Alakai and Huakai, two Hawaiian superferries docked at Lambert’s Point , may soon be changing hands.

The U.S. Maritime Administration, which put the two vessels up for sale on an “as is, where is” basis in late June, has received four bids.

They were due by 5 p.m. July 20.

The administration is “working expeditiously with bidders and other interested parties in evaluating its options, with a goal of maximizing the government’s return from these vessels,” according to a spokeswoman.

The June 20 sale notice in the Federal Register made it clear the ferries would not be given away.

The administration reserved “the right to reject any and all bids and to seek additional bids from the bidders and any other interested parties.”

The plan was to sell the ferries together – they would be sold separately only if they could be sold at the same time, according to the notice.

Also required: cash sale or owner-procured financing, plus a $500,000 non-refundable deposit for each ferry.

The administration took possession of the ferries in July 2009 after a bankruptcy judge ruled that the owner – Hawaii Superferry Inc. – could abandon them to lenders, owed nearly $159 million. The administration, which guaranteed the loans, moved them to Norfolk. -- Robert McCabe

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Damn, just realized something...

This "unofficial" blog outlasted the official entity...

4 Cheap Offers, No Deal, MARAD ain't Desperate

Best review of the news we have seen from Kyle at DMZ Hawai'i:

Taxpayers Stuck With Unsold Ferries in Default

August 10, 2011 by

Bloomberg published an article about the wasteful Maritime Administration (MARAD) loan guarantee program, which became the reluctant owner of two high-speed ferry ships after the Hawaii Superferry went bankrupt in 2009:

Two passenger ferries sit at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia, waiting for someone to take them off the government’s hands.

The U.S. Maritime Administration has taken bids for them in an attempt to recover some of the $138 million in taxpayer money paid to cover defaults on loans it guaranteed for the owners, Hawaii Superferry Inc. The company sought bankruptcy protection and defaulted in 2009.

The unwanted ferries are reminders of the defaults and oversight problems reported as recently as December in the so- called Title XI program as vessel owners have won $798 million in new loan guarantees this year, the most since 2001. As it considers two applications for an additional $712 million in guarantees, the maritime agency is trying to recover what it can on $311 million paid out to cover six defaults since 2008.

After protests and legal challenges disrupted Hawaii Superferry operations, the Hawai’i Supreme Court finally ruled that the special legislation retroactively exempting the Superferry from the state’s environmental review laws was illegal. However, it was the company’s arrogance and collusion with state officials to circumvent the environmental review process that doomed the venture from the start. As the article points out, even down to the rationale for the MARAD loan guarantee program, the Superferry project was driven by politics and special interests:

The program’s bipartisan supporters, such as former Senator Trent Lott, a MississippiRepublican, and Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, credit Title XI with creating jobs and supporting national defense and the U.S. commercial fleet. The U.S. fleet shrank from 17 percent of the world’s oceangoing merchant ships in 1960 to less than 1 percent in 2008, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Five guarantees approved since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 will create 8,000 jobs, maritime agency Administrator David Matsuda said in an e-mail.

The program has survived elimination attempts because supporters in Congress “logroll” to keep funding it, said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at theCato Institute. “Some of these ships are built in their districts, and they’ll fight to the death for it,” Edwards said in an interview. His Washington-based group advocates reducing government spending and lower taxes.


Politics drove decisions to give guarantees to some companies that eventually defaulted, Clayton Cook, the maritime agency’s general counsel from 1970 through 1973, said in an interview.

He cited American Classic Voyages Co., chaired by billionaire real-estate investor Sam Zell, which received a $1.1 billion guarantee for two cruise ships under the banner of Project America. Five subsidiaries of the company accounted for $330 million of the $490 million that defaults cost the government from 1993 through 2002.

Inouye sponsored a provision in a defense bill called the U.S. Flag Cruise Ship Pilot Project, he said at a hearing in 1999. The project gave American Classic Voyages exclusive rights to operate cruise ships in Hawaii, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in 2000. The ships were to be built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Lott’s hometown. Lott declined to be interviewed.

American Classic Voyages filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2001. The default cost taxpayers $187 million, according to the maritime agency.

Hawaii Connections

“The project, while proceeding with considerable difficulty, including delays and increased costs in construction, ultimately became a victim, like many other industries, of the September 11 attack on our nation,” Inouye said in a floor speech in 2003.

Inouye didn’t respond to a question about the default, saying in an e-mail that “loan-guarantee programs are one of the many ways that government can partner with the private sector to create jobs and expand the economy.”

Hawaii Superferry, chaired by former Navy Secretary John Lehman, spent up to $20,000 a year lobbying Congress, the maritime agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies on Title XI and “vessel financing issues” between 2004 and 2006, according to federal lobbying disclosures. The loan guarantees helped the firm finance the ferry purchases from shipbuilder Austal USA, based in Mobile, Alabama.

The Superferry’s default occurred because a Hawaii court ruled the state shouldn’t have let the company skip an environmental impact study, said William Schubert, maritime administrator from December 2001 to February 2005. “The people of Hawaii wanted the service, and when it went to the state Supreme Court it pretty much put an end to the program,” Schubert said in a phone interview.

The quote from Schubert is incorrect on a few ponts. Activists figured out early on that the Superferry business model was unprofitable. As Austal USA, the shipbuilder, pointed out to the Hawaii Superferry executives in the beginning, the ships on order were too large for the Hawai’i market. But they did meet military specifications, which in the end, paid off for Austal, who leveraged the Hawaii Superferry as a proof of concept to win a contract to supply Joint High Speed Vessels to the military. Some people from some islands may have wanted the Superferry. But many strongly opposed the project as another threat to the environment and sustainability. And Hawaii taxpayers were left holding the bag for $40 million in state harbor improvements that were never recovered from the company.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"As is, Where is" Two Fast Ferries for Sale, Cheap?

Hot damn, when it rains it pours.

This is where we find out who benefits from them. Whoever hopes to buy them at pennies on the dollar benefits from all the other losses:

[Federal Register: June 20, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 118)]
[Notices][Page 35941-35943]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access


Maritime Administration

Offer for Public Sale of Two High Speed Vessels

AGENCY: Maritime Administration (MARAD),
Department of Transportation.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: MARAD is offering for public sale, on an ``as is, where is''
basis, two fast ferry vessels, ALAKAI, Official Number 1182234, and
HUAKAI, Official Number 1215902.

DATES: Bids may be submitted on or before 5 p.m. July 20, 2011.

of Shipyards and Marine Engineering, Maritime Administration,
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone:
(202) 366-1850; or e-mail Copies of this notice
may also be obtained from that office. An electronic copy of this
document may be downloaded from the Federal Register's home
page at: and the Government Printing
Office's database at:

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Maritime Administration
(``MARAD''), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation,
is offering for public sale, on an ``as is, where is'' basis, two fast ferry
vessels, ALAKAI, Official Number 1182234, and HUAKAI, Official
Number 1215902 (each a ``Vessel'' and collectively, the ``Vessels'').
MARAD will warrant title to the Vessels and convey title free and
clear of all liens. The Vessels were previously owned by Hawaii
Superferry LLC and MARAD has obtained title through foreclosure.
The Vessels were built in Mobile, AL by Austal USA and are currently
berthed at Lambert's Point Dock, Norfolk, VA. Specifications for the
Vessels are set forth at the end of this notice (no guarantee or warranty
as to specifications is made by MARAD).

All bids must contain specific information on the offer price, details of
any financing for the purchase of the Vessels, timing of the closing of
the proposed transaction, affidavit stating that the bidder is not
affiliated with the former owner, Hawaii Superferry LLC, or any of its
officers, directors or significant equity owners, and any contigencies
that could affect the closing of the transaction. Bidders may be either
U.S. citizens or foreign citizens. However, because the Vessels are U.S.
flagged, any bidder who is a foreign citizen must be prepared to comply
promptly with the provisions of 46 U.S.C. 56101 and MARAD's
implementing regulations. Responsive and successful bids should
include the following components: (1) Purchase of both Vessels
(MARAD only will consider an offer for sale of a single Vessel if
concurrent sale of both Vessels to separate buyers can be arranged),
(2) monthly reimbursement of any lay-up costs for the Vessels between
the execution of a sale contract and closing of the sale, (3) purchase of
the Vessels on an ``as is, where is'' basis with MARAD only required to
warrant title to the Vessels and that they are free and clear of liens, and
(4) cash sale or owner-procured financing (proposals with MARAD
financing of the Vessels will not be considered).

The successful bidder will be required to submit a $500,000 deposit
for each Vessel. Deposits must be made by wire transfer or in the form
of a certified check, drawn on a U.S. bank and made payable to MARAD,
within five business days of the bidder being advised that its bid is
approved by the Maritime Administrator. The successful bid will be
considered non-responsive if the bid deposit is not received in the
required five business day time frame. The deposit is nonrefundable.
No interest will be paid on the deposit. The successful bidder's deposit
will be credited toward the bid offer. The successful bidder may not
assign its right to the Vessel without consent of MARAD.

The successful bidder will be required to sign the MARAD form vessel
sale contract that, among other provisions, incorporates all of the
requirements set forth in this notice.

MARAD reserves the right to reject any and all bids and to seek
additional bids from the bidders and any other interested parties.
Arrangements to inspect the Vessel must be made through MARAD.
All inspections will be at the bidder's own risk and expense. For
additional information or to arrange an inspection, please contact
Mr. David Heller at (202) 366-1850 or Bids
and affidavits must be submitted by overnight courier to the Maritime
Administration, Office of Marine Financing, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE.,
Room W23-432, Washington, DC 20590, Attention: Mr. Daniel Ladd,
by 5 p.m. 30 days from date of publication of this notice.


By Order of the Maritime Administrator.

Dated: June 14, 2011.

Murray Bloom,
Acting Secretary, Maritime Administration.
[FR Doc. 2011-15147 Filed 6-17-11; 8:45 am]

Aggressive Corrosion in Austal's Pride and Joy

Was thinking about getting rid of this page just last week.

But wait!, the story never seems to die:

"Navy Finds ‘Aggressive’ Corrosion on New Ship"
By David Lerman and Tony Capaccio - Jun 17, 2011

The U.S. Navy has discovered “aggressive” corrosion in Austal Ltd. (ASB)’s first new combat ship designed for operating close to shore.

The corrosion is in the propulsion areas of the USS Independence, the Littoral Combat Ship built by the Mobile, Alabama-based subsidiary of Australia’s Austal and General Dynamics Corp. (GD)

“This could be a very serious setback,” said Norman Polmar, an independent naval analyst and author in Alexandria, Virginia. “If the ship develops a serious flaw, you’re not going to continue producing them.”

Permanent repair will require drydocking the ship and removing its “water jets,” a key component of the propulsion system, the Navy said in a written statement to congressional appropriations committees provided to Bloomberg News.

Aluminum-hulled ships such as Austal’s tend to rust faster than steel-hulled ships, Polmar said. “But I’m surprised it happened so early,” he said. “This ship is brand new.”

The corrosion discovery in a ship that was commissioned in January 2010 marks another blow to the Littoral Combat Ship program, planned to ultimately consist of 55 ships. In February, the Navy discovered another ship in the series, from another construction team, had a crack through the hull.

Close to Shore

The Littoral Combat ships are designed to operate closer to shore than the rest of the Navy's surface fleet. They would make up about 17 percent of the Navy’s planned 313-ship fleet. Missions include clearing mines, hunting submarines and providing humanitarian relief.

The Navy in December awarded contracts for as many as 10 Littoral Combat ships to each of two teams of builders, led by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Austal.

Austal won a $465 million contract that could reach as much as $3.78 billion if all options are exercised, the Navy announcement said. Building all 55 ships will cost the Navy at least $37.4 billion, according to a Pentagon report released in April.

Officials were concerned about the potential for corrosion during construction of the ship because of “dissimilar metals,” particularly near the steel propulsion shafts, the Navy memo said.

Temporary repairs will allow the ship to operate safely in the interim, the Navy said. The Littoral Combat Ships are designed to last about 25 years. Each ship is expected to cost about $36.6 million a year to operate and support.

Two Versions

The Navy is buying two versions from two teams of builders. The other team consists of Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed and Marinette Marine Corp. of Marinette, Wisconsin.

The first Lockheed ship developed a crack as long as six inches through its hull during sea trials in February, prompting a Navy investigation of the design.

Calls to Austal and calls and e-mails to General Dynamics weren’t immediately returned.

The Austal ship is now in Mayport, Florida, undergoing additional testing, the Navy said in its statement. A permanent repair of the existing corrosion damage would be conducted next year, the Navy said.

The Navy statement did not provide an estimate of the cost of the repair work.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again

HB191.DOC HB191 Status
Context: The purpose of this measure is to establish the Hawaii state ferry system ...a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows: "CHAPTER HAWAII STATE FERRY SYSTEM Definitions. As used this chapter, unless the context indicates otherwise: "Authority" means the Hawaii state ferry system authority. "Department" means the department of transportation. ...Director" means the director of transportation. "Ferry system" means the Hawaii state ferry system. "Vessel" ...
Filesize: 26476
Electronic File Date: 1/20/2011 8:26:20 PM