Thursday, December 06, 2007


Planning for HSF to go to Big Island

Brad Parsons unearthed and is circulating a 14-page file of discussion which I believe was obtained as a result of an FOI request. Much of it concerns the plans for accommodating the Superferry at Kawaihae on the Big Island. There's a date at the top, 7/5/2006.

There's much to read and I haven't done that yet, nor would I be able to relate the wave height and other figures to the real world. Perhaps someone with more experience can comment.

Just to whet your appetite to download this file and have a look, here is a snippet (OCRd):

5. Current users of pier 1 are cattle boats and cement barges. Cattle boats will go to Hilo. Cement barges will share pier 1 with HSF. Phone up cement operators and DOT Harbors and get their view of whether this is practical.

6. Alternatives 2b and 3 conflict with current location of HSF operations and are not practical unless an alternative location is arranged.

7. Terry White indicated that operation for HSF is 3 feet waves at dock and 30 knots wind, or a lesser combined criteria, for instance, 25b knot wind and 2 ft or 2.5 ft waves. This is a rough criteria and will be refined through operating experience. They have no good predictors of conditions at this time, and expect to have both unnecessary cancellations and cancellations after the HSF has left Honolulu. This is the critical issue for the analysis. Tom Smith has been told by DOT that they feel the 3 ft. criteria are completely unrealistic. If we are to use alternative criteria, how do we arrive at it, and how do we evaluate the uncertainty of those criteria? This is an engineering question, not an economic one, and should be evaluated as such.

8. Terry White affirmed HFS's long term commitment to pier 1 as the site of operations. However, in evaluating the project from a NED standpoint, are we constrained by the current political decision to locate the HSF at pier 1?

This is a quote out of context, but you have access to the full document. I welcome comments, if anyone has anything to say about this.



My review of the document suggests that none of those people are willing to guess at what is an acceptable wave height to load and unload the ferry---because they do not have any good data to make an estimate.

The passage about a more conservative figure being applied before the ferry departs Honolulu than if the ferry is already enroute is telling, though. Once the boat is enroute the decision to return to Honolulu will be more costly and you can clearly see the economic incentive to fudge the safety factor a bit (i.e. to try a landing in conditions a bit rougher than what they would like).

Also, there seems to be a possible conflict where the Army Corps of Engineers' (which, I infer from the email traffic, has some sort of project in the pipeline for Kawaihae) would benefit if there were a more conservative (i.e. smaller waves) standard of acceptable conditions for operation, while the ferry would be helped by a more aggressive (bigger wave) standard.

Doug, thanks for going over the document.

I imagine the ferry will check conditions at the destination before loading. I wonder what passenger reaction will be if they do "fudge" the safety factor and disembarking via the barge proves to be somewhat traumatic.

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