Thursday, July 31, 2008


Does military adaptation of Superferry deserve its spot on the obituary page?

by Larry Geller

I found my name on the obituary page today! Yes, it’s there. Scary, huh?

It’s at the bottom of a story on the Superferry, Ramp will give next Superferry vessel increased flexibility,  based on an interview with Superferry CEO Admiral Thomas Fargo by Advertiser government reporter Derrick DePledge. At the end of the story DePledge credited Disappeared News with turning up a mention of the ramp plan on BYM Marine & Maritime News.

And the Advertiser, reverting to past practice, placed his story on the obituary page. Shouldn’t it have been in the funny sideways business section?

Of course, in terms of content, my blog post was never as alive as DePledge’s. If I were to phone Adm. Fargo and ask for an interview, I doubt I’d get it (“Disappeared News?? Go disappear then!”). All I did was take a few moments to quote a paragraph, DePledge did actual work to create his story. And then they buried it at the bottom of the obits!

On the other hand, maybe that has deeper meaning. Maui activist Dick Mayer emailed comments on Joan Conrow’s article yesterday, pondering whether the installation of loading ramps could be an "Exit Strategy."

Update: Joan Conrow adds additional detail from an article in the Alabama Press-Register. I haven’t linked it, because Joan has developed the context, so it’s better if you read her article. [Aside: I love the freedom of a blog to send you to the best place to read a story. Will KHON ever send viewers over to KITV, or the Advertiser send you to the Star-Bulletin? If it happens at all, it can’t be very common.]

In case you don’t go there, here’s  a snippet from Joan that I think sums up well why so many bloggers follow the Superferry closely:

Now I don’t mind if HSF 2, or even the Alakai, for that matter, is made into a military ship, although it bothers me that the HSF spent so much money lobbying in an effort to get us taxpayers to pick up the tab. But I’m a fan of full disclosure, and when Hawaii Superferry came to town, asking for all sorts of state help and public acceptance for what is proving to be a rather dubious commercial enterprise, I think they should have been totally up front about their military aspirations.

Then we all could have weighed the issue more carefully, and asked such probing questions as whether HSF really is committed to the state for the long haul, or if we’ll be left holding the bag for those expensive harbor improvements, tugboat operations and litigation — and have no alternative form of transportation to show for it.

Well put, Joan. No one wants to be “used.” Let’s see how this turns out.

Update Update: Ok, someone emailed me. The reason you might want to jump on over to Joan’s article linking to the Alabama news story is summed up in this tiny snippet, ambiguously referring to either the current or second Hawaii Superferry vessel:

…company officials could be positioning the vessel for sale to a third party.

So go there, read, be informed.

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Audit Finds Lax Oversight On LCS 2 Costs
staff report
Published: 30 Jul 11:49 EDT (15:49 GMT)
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An internal U.S. Navy audit found a "significant breakdown" in oversight and cost controls for the second littoral combat ship, now about $300 million over budget and a year behind schedule at its shipyard in Mobile, Ala., according to a July 30 report.

The Navy document, obtained under the freedom of information act by the Mobile Press-Register newspaper, reported that project managers at Austal USA, the shipyard building the General Dynamics-designed LCS 2, were not keeping Navy acquisitions officials in the loop about the Independence's cost and schedule problems.

More specifically, the audit found that Austal hadn't followed 20 of the Defense Department's 32 guidelines for tracking "earned value management"; that the Navy's supervisor of shipbuilding in Bath, Maine, hadn't watched Austal closely enough; nor did the ship's prime contractor, General Dynamics. And, in January 2007, when Naval Sea Systems Command established an LCS "Program Management Assist Group" to look into the project, it was given just 15 working days to report its findings.

Only one person in the LCS Project Management Office was responsible for overseeing "earned value management," the audit found, part of an overall shortage of personnel as the shipbuilding program ran in what workers called a "fire-drill cycle." That one person also worked in Bath, as opposed to working at the shipyard in Mobile. Project overseers later added more workers to oversee the cost-benefit data, according to the report.

Navy spokesman Lt. Clay Doss was unavailable July 30 for questions from Navy Times, but he told the Press-Register that the Navy was committed to "earned value management" and that the Navy was "working proactively to make sure it's implemented."

anonymous, thank you for this article.

You're welcome. It came from,a good military source. I was looking for your email address to send it to you directly. I'll leave things in comments

Also noticed the article was barried deep in the paper, but did not notice it was the obits page.

A friend thinks the co. is trying to dimish expected revelations due in a few months by steadily leaking them out now.

I was making the point to the friend that none of these operations, not even transporting mili between Oahu and the BI will create a viable co. The goal is the construction contracts for JHSV and LCS. The commercial operations are a political favor, loss leader, and construction demonstration project.

Aloha, Brad

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Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

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