Friday, May 02, 2008


More allegations of manufacturing defects in Alakai surface

by Larry Geller

The daily papers, for some reason, haven't gone near the issue of alleged manufacturing defects in the Superferry, although the blogs are abuzz with discussion.

Reporter Kristin Hashimoto of the Big Island Weekly has finally put something in print (I assume, all I can see from Oahu is their website), and added to concerns about manufacturing defects.

She asks if it's Time to jump ship?

Superferry manufacturer under fire

By Kristin Hashimoto

Thursday, May 1, 2008 9:54 AM HST

Former Austal employees allege the Hawai`i Superferry's Alakai is operating with manufacturing defects. They also warn that her sister ship, currently under construction, will have similar problems.

Kristen included reports from sources other than the three workers who were interviewed on KKCR:

Austal's own inspector found problems with the vessels during manufacturing. Teresa Hart is a certified level two inspector specializing in ultrasonics, magnetic particle and liquid penetrants. She is qualified to conduct visual inspections and to supervise welding, and was hired by Austal to provide quality assurance even though there was no department handling that facet of the manufacturing process. "Even when they were trying to hire me, they told me they didn't want a quality assurance department or manager," Hart said.

While onsite in Mobile as the Alakai was under construction, Hart noticed problems with some of that ship's welds. They "just weren't right," she said. ". . . there were welds missing, that's a pretty big deal and I thought, well, surely they'll bring somebody in and they'll catch it. It's never normal to miss a weld." Hart told a supervisor about them at the time but was told that her work was restricted to another ship.

While the ships didn't have a lot of quality assurance people eyeing each process and weld, Hart explained that Austal used x-rays to insure the structural integrity of the joinery. Still, Hart was concerned. As her clamors about quality control grew louder, she was terminated in March 2007, five months after she was first brought onboard. Reason? "They told me I wasn't a team player."

Wayne Jenkins, who spoke out on the KKCR program, was also terminated.

This article adds to concerns about the manufacture of the Alakai and its sister ship, due for delivery next year.  Kristin does report that the Coast Guard inspected the ship and its welds and passed it.

How long will it be before the daily papers look into these allegations? Or maybe a TV station or two? Doesn't the public deserve to know that these questions are being asked?

As to why the papers are reluctant to bring you much adverse news about the Superferry, I have a theory. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll close with this snip from the Advertiser's website, though I could have snipped similar from others:

Superferry Ad


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