Thursday, January 15, 2009


Advertiser breaking Monday’s news today

by Larry Geller

To me, the “breaking news” section is the most valuable thing about the Advertiser website. I usually check it several times a day.

Recently they’ve had some old news there, and some pretty insignificant news there. I didn’t write anything about that, but an article today is worth a remark.

You know by now, of course, that the Hawaii Superferry suddenly announced that the ship will go for its “scheduled” drydock stay in February for two weeks. Since passenger reservations were made for that time it raises questions about whether it was indeed a sudden decision, and why it might need to be looked at so soon after it experienced a particularly rough ride.

We know about the sudden drydock announcement from news coverage on Monday, including a Star-Bulletin story that day.

But now it appears today, Thursday, as “breaking news” in the Advertiser. Usually, breaking news might appear in the print edition the next day, which will be Friday. That’s really late. And not “breaking” at all.

If you can’t find it easily tomorrow, be sure to check the “community” section under the new community, “Ka Iwi Channel." That’s how they hid the last bad news story.

Either there is something really strange about the Advertiser and unfavorable Superferry news, or we are observing a newspaper in deep trouble. I wish them well, I think it’s a bit of both.


Re: "Since [700] passenger reservations were made for that time it raises questions about whether it was indeed a [planned] decision, and why it might need to be looked at so soon after it experienced a particularly rough ride."

An intellectual thread on this:

G: "...All drydocks are scheduled months in advance. Ddocks require USCG scheduling and approval of the haul. A vessel of this size takes considerable number of inspectors and a considerable amount of time to inspect. Which means USCG will have to pull its limited number of inspectors away from other passenger vessels set for ddock to work on this one. For HSF to ‘all of a sudden’ announce what they are classifying as a routine ddock, does not smell right. Given the advance planning required they would have known about the ddock and dates months ago. So if it was planned, why not announced 4-6 months ago. Why the sudden announcement, ‘we are going to ddock in 3 weeks’. I think we will learn that they have another problem created by the massive deck slamming incident a few weeks back. Be prepared for an announced ‘finding’ during routine ddock and the vessel is down due to orders by USCG..."

G: "1. HPR announced on morning news that 'passengers who booked during the upcoming ddock period will be given refunds.' Doesn't sound like a planned ddock to me.

2. Folks need to understand the USCG is the equivalent body to passenger carrying vessels as the FAA is the passenger planes/jets. The have huge regulatory authority. All accidents and injuries must be reported. Drug and alcohol tests must be administered immediately to all captain/crew/pursers.

So what do we know about accidents and HSF. HSF reports a few cars 'slipped' during transit. While the media focused on the damaged cars, the USCG is focusing on the cause and operational impact to HSF. In fact, it is surprising the vessel was not taken down for investigation of the incident -- and perhaps that is what this ddock is all about.

Here is why:

All passenger carrying vessels are tested for stability. You don't want a vessel plying the seas and rolling over (like some ferries have done in the far east). With smaller vessels you conduct stability tests, which amounts to loading one side of the vessel with weights until 'x' amount of lean is accomplished and a formula calculates that this is the 'tipping' point of the vessel. USCG engineers usually allow for a safety margin and from here they calculate the load or weight/number of passengers a vessel can safely carry (deck space and seating is also a factor).

In the larger ships and especially with catamarans this doesn't work. So they mathematically calculate the 'virtual center of gravity' of the vessel and then determine the max tonnage it can carry, seas it can operate (wave height and wind = seastate). In essence they calculate hypothetically the 'tipping' point for these large cats. Speed, mass, seastate all play a role.

So how does this affect HSF and recent accident? First, HSF likely has an operational mandate to tie-down all vehicles, otherwise the VCG shifts if you can contain your cargo. USCG has likely issued a operational violation for the accident. Why? Well these cars likely represented about 40 tons or about 10% of the ships 'light weight'. As exampled above, moving 10% of the ship's weight to the outboard side of the vessel shifts the VCG and could cause the vessel to roll over at worse case, or loss maneuverability --which in the seas it was encountering could have been a disaster.

Second, USCG could care less about the damaged cars and wants to know has the integrity of the vessel been compromised? ...While not enough to sink the vessel, they could prove worrisome enough to cause the dry-dock.

I am also guessing the area where the cars 'broke lose' may be under quarantine and no vehicles...allowed in this area of the vessel until a determination of cause and effect are made by USCG.

Overall I surmise the USCG is so concerned about the inability of HSF to maintain the integrity of its cargo and the resultant impact on the ship that they have demanded a haul."

I: "Also, what happened to the repair of Kahului barge? There was no time to put repairs out to bid but nothing's yet been done... are they looking to do this at the same time as dry-dock?"

G: "Therein lies the fourth 'leg' to the 'table'. USCG likely gave...60-90 days to affect repair of barge (since it is integral to ops). Do the math and you will likely find this ddock falls within that window. I could never figure out how USCG did not require a haul on barge in first place."

Comical conspiracy theory and what a waste of energy. Here are the real facts:

1. The drydocking requires a drydock....there is only one in HI that can handle the Superferry and the docking coincides with that drydock being available.

2. The Superferry has not operated anywhere close to its limits....passenger comfort is the driver behind a cancellation of a voyage; the ship and crew can take rough seas.

3. Ferry Snoop-dog and Larry have a lot of spare time on their hands.

4. This website has yet to post any of my previous posts.....nice censorship.

Anon: "The Superferry has not operated anywhere close to its limits....passenger comfort is the driver behind a cancellation of a voyage..."

Oh yeah, like last winter when the hull housing around the rudder was damaged by rough conditions and they tried to fix it with cement until the CG put a stop to it? The vessel can take it like that?

About it's limits, it is a standard around the world that aluminium hull fast ferries are not allowed to operate in seastates above 19ft., which is where the Coast Guard got that standard after last winter's mishaps.

This vessel is not suppose to be operating in deck-slamming waters above 19ft according to the Coast Guard.

4. It's not censorship. It's comment moderation. The crap stops here.

1. I suppose one needs an appointment to put a ship in drydock. Like going to have your teeth cleaned etc. So if the visit was planned, why take reservations for the same period?

2. Should be like you say, but barfing passengers are not comfortable, yet they have run under those conditions. It's been reported in the papers.

On comical conspiracy theories, please note that accusing a group of participating in a conspiracy theory is itself a conspiracy theory. I have theories, of course, but most of them have some evidence involved, and as is the custom, I and other bloggers try to include links where you can go to check it out yourself.

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