Wednesday, January 27, 2010


“Hawaii Superferry” poised to do good

by Larry Geller

Huakai The Huakai actually never made it to Hawaii, though Hawaii Superferry is painted on its side. (click for larger image)

Now it is carrying the state’s name to Haiti, as the military transport vessel many predicted was its intended use to start with. A cruel fate has pressed Huakai into service as a military transport and supply vessel but for humanitarian relief, not for war.

This is a task that the two superferries are very well suited to. Their large capacity and speed make them ideal transport vessels for supplies, equipment and cargo. In Hawaii, the superferries were tariffed only as passenger carriers.

Fifty-four soldiers from the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element are aboard the superferry Huakai, which is owned by the U.S. Maritime Administration and controlled by Military Sealift Command. About 70 soldiers from Eustis' 7th Sustainment Brigade are also bound for Haiti. [The Virginia Pilot, Soldiers from Fort Eustis heading to Haiti aboard superferry, 1/27/2010]

Another article notes that the ship will also carry relief supplies:

The U.S. Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) will send its 597th Transportation Brigade to Port-au-Prince to deliver humanitarian supplies.

In a press release, the SDDC noted that the Huakai "traditionally only moves passengers," but for this mission the Maritime Administration has given operational control of the vessel to the Military Sealift Command to deliver equipment and cargo as well as military personnel. [The Daily Press (Newport News, VA, Superferry to depart from Fort Eustis bound for Haiti, 1/27/2010]

Hawaii Superferry, the company, had not brought in enough revenue, according to independent estimates, and predictably ended in bankruptcy shortly after a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling stopped Huakai’s sister ship, Alakai, dead in the water. .

Although the ruling did not relate to the company’s financial condition, it precipitated the bankruptcy, and ultimately the Maritime Administration (MARAD) took possession of the two vessels.


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