Friday, April 25, 2008


Superferry fleet-of-one now has an admiral

by Larry Geller

I can't help it. The image that came into my mind was of an old cartoon (Dennis the Menace?) of a kid playing with a plastic boat in a bathtub.

This news isn't "disappeared," it's a big breaking news item right now. John Garibaldi has been replaced by retired Admiral Thomas Fargo as president and CEO of Hawaii Superferry, according to a press release today.

Fargo, of course was the head of the U.S. Pacific Command from 2002 until 2005. Now he's admiral, well, president, of a fleet of one ship, next year to expand to two.

This appointment is sure to be cited as indicative of the ferry's potential military role, and why not. Appointments are made for a purpose, even if outsiders may not be able to discern it immediately. A fleet of one boat intended for passenger service now has the former head of the country's largest military command in charge. Your speculation is as good as mine.

John Garibaldi will remain as vice president, according to the announcement. So now the ferry has to carry enough passengers to pay Adm. Fargo's presumably significant salary, in addition to buying fuel and all its other expenses.

Let's see how he does that, if there's no military future for the ship in the business plan. This is no cartoon kid in a bathtub, this ship has some real-world purpose which sooner or later has to involve making money.

The Advertiser breaking news story is here. The Star-Bulletin used a strangely deceptive Associate Press story which includes this:

The Superferry linked Honolulu with Maui and Kauai for a brief time in August before legal troubles and protests shut down the operation.

The Honolulu-Maui service resumed in December with the 350-foot Alakai making daily roundtrips. The company has announced a second Maui roundtrip will be run four days a week commencing May 9.

The whole first paragraph cited above is a crock, and the second paragraph is false. The ferry was supposed to start service December 1 but didn't start until December 13 and then there was the long outage in drydock. "Daily roundtrips" is just plain wrong, and let's see if the Star-Bulletin runs this in its paper edition tomorrow.



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