Thursday, April 10, 2008

Superferry Damage: Da Inside Scoop

During their show this afternoon on KKCR, Katy Rose and Jimmy Trujillo interviewed three guests who offered some interesting insights into the Superferry, most notably the damage that sent it into drydock early.

Wayne Jenkins, a welder employed by Austal USA, which built the Alakai for Hawaii Superferry, said he “had problems with the way some of the welds were being done on the boat.”

He pointed these out to his supervisors, but was told the welds didn’t need to look good, because they’d be covered with insulation. However, he said, “those little cracks continue to expand.”

When those hairline cracks are subjected to stress, Jenkins said, “they will crack all the way through,” causing leaks, and that’s apparently what happened to the Alakai.

Jenkins said Hawaii workers poured concrete into the cracks to stop the leaks and then continued to operate the ferry for another week before Austal crews were sent over from Mobile, Ala. to work on the Alakai.

He said if the cracks widened sufficiently, they could allow in enough water “to sink the ship.”

Jenkins said he does not think the Austal work crews were in Hawaii long enough “to repair it the way they should. I personally do not think it would be safe enough to ride.”

He also confirmed that the ferry suffered “major damage” to its hull when it fell off the blocks while being placed into drydock. “I don’t think they (Austal work crews) had the right or proper equipment to repair it. They just patched it up the best they could to put it back in the water.”

Jenkins and Swan Cleveland, union organizer for the Sheetmetal workers’ union engaged in the union drive at Austal, said the company allowed “people who are not properly trained” to do welding on the Alakai and its sister ship, now under construction and due for completion Sept. 30.

Jenkins attributed the use of poorly trained workers on the two high speed ferries to Austal’s desire to finish up the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, which is already over budget at $500 million.

“It seems they’re casting everything aside to complete the navy ship,” he said. “They want those other 55 ships (under the Navy LCS contract) so they’re trying to cut every corner they can.”

Cleveland [correction, it was Jenkins] also confirmed that Austal executives had discussed military uses for both of the high-speed ferries, saying “if the military needed the superferries, they could carry so many tanks and personnel.”

Cleveland further maintained that Austal was engaged in racial discrimination and union-busting tactics, and that a company using such practices should not be involved in building a U.S. warship.

Mahalo, Katy and Jimmy, for tracking those guys down and putting them on the air. Kinda puts the big dailies, with all their resources, to shame.

27 comments:

Larry said...

Sure does!

Thank you for your report on the program!

Anonymous said...

Mahalo Joan for getting the story out. Amazing stuff. Concrete in cracks? Gotta be kidding me.
Jonathan Jay will post transcripts and audio downloads on Island Breath this weekend. Thanx again for getting the scoop out. We'll keep you posted on any further developments. Peace,.......jimmy t

Anonymous said...

High quality investigative journalism - seeking the views of the unions who were just flogged in a workplace ballot and an aggrieved worker. Who needs the quality press eh?

Anonymous said...

The mysterious thing about the failure of the big dailies is that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that where there are disgruntled and mistreated workers in a union organizing drive or some other type of labor dispute like the discrimination suit, there will be people willing and eager to spill some damning information.

Let's remember to support those workers at Austal USA. They took a risk today giving that information, and it sounds like they take risks everyday working under dangerous conditions.

Contact Swan, Wayne and Carolyn through the sheetmetal workers union local 441 at 251-476-1900, or fax your message of support to them at 251-473-0378.

-Katy

Anonymous said...

High quality investigative journalism - seeking the views of the unions who were just flogged in a workplace ballot and an aggrieved worker. Who needs the quality press eh?

Anonymous said...

What the so called experts do not say when making their allegations is that, very much like air travel, passenger ships are highly regulated and inspected both during construction and operation. An independant international classification society monitors the construction, approves the welders, welds and equipment onboard and the US Coast Guard gives the final approval for carrying passengers. Ongoing inspections are maintained during a vessel's working life. The real truth is that more than a hundred similar vessels to Alakai operate in daily service worldwide where their safety record is impeccable. Just check the records or take a trip to Turkey, Greece, Hong Kong, Spain, Canary Islands, Italy, Venezuala, Japan, Trinidad & Tobago, Guadeloupe and the English Channel. You will also find that in no situation has there been a sudden increase in harm or death to marine mammals. I suspect that any whale would be more scared of near silent high speed racing sailing yachts in Hawaii with their deep 14' blade keels and limited ability to look forward!

Anonymous said...

views of the unions who were just flogged in a workplace ballot and an aggrieved worker

MauiBrad said...

Yep, sure does! Thanks for the good report Joan. I listened, but want to listen to it again and read the transcript. That was a devastating radio show. Best thing I have seen or heard since Aug. 26th and 27th and when the Governor was shouted down with "E-I-S! E-I-S!..." Thanks for the report. Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan, thanks Katy. That was great information indeed!!! Josephine

Anonymous said...

Katy and her crack investigative journalists never bothered to check if this guy, Wayne, even worked on the Alakai construction. It seems he joined Austal USA in December of 2007 (just about the same time as the union campaign)! Gee, all of 4 mos of experience and he's an expert on ship construction. I smell lots of sour grapes from a union who just got told they're not wanted.

Anonymous said...

If Wanye Jenkins started working at Austal USA December 07 that is a full 6 months after the vessel was delivered so he was not involved in the construction of this vessel.

Great research... we should all be thankful you are not responsbile for the construction of these vessels.

Good luck in not getting sued over this article.

Anonymous said...

Wayne Jenkins was one of several workers who were wrongfully fired by the company and won their jobs back. If he's lying about the company now, he could be fired for reals this time.

Anonymous said...

I don't think wayne claimed to have built the alakai but it sounds like he has worked on the sister ship.

Regardless, those workers experienced discrimination and unfair labor practices at Austal USA - that's a big concern. Wayne was illagally fired by Austal during the union drive and then the National Labor Relations Board ordered Austal to hire him back with backpay, so he didn't just start in '07. And they have witnessed problems with the safety of the vessels. Wayne said that the sister ship has problems too.

I think its Austal and HSF who should worry about lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! Wayne was certainly talking specifically about the Alakai, and he certainly spoke as if from first person knowledge. If he never even worked on the Alakai then he was being dishonest.

Perhaps he (carefully?) never claimed to work on the Alakai, but he certainly implied it. He's looking more and more like a tainted source.

Joan said...

"He's looking more and more like a tainted source."

You mean, as opposed to Garibaldi and O'Halloran, who are quoted day in and day out in the mainstream press?

Anonymous said...

Irregardless of whether Wayne worked on the Alakai, the boat has suffered unexpected damages and needed to be repaired for cracks in the hull/rudder system. There's no argument there.

Whether this is because of faulty design or poor workmanship remains to be seen. These crucial points/facts shouldn't be overlooked either: the working conditions at Austal were/are so poor that NLRB action has taken place and a lawsuit for discrimination has been filed.

These points are what lead Katy and I to follow up with the Thursday interview. The interview was scheduled before the union vote and the focus was going to be about working conditions regarding NLRB action and the racial discrimination lawsuit. The insight into construction and repairs was added value. We'll see how well the cement fills the cracks in the new and improved Alakai.

The information that our guests provided KKCR listeners has reinforced the notion that the HSFerry is not going to last very long. The facts that the cracks appeared and drydock was necessary is indicative of something. The EIS first crowd and those who reject the spin about the 'overwhelming support' can put another arrow in the quiver of why not to support the HSF operation.

The comments by our guests have validated the opinion of many that the Psuedoferry has no integrity and is just a smoke and mirror sham to gain lucrative military contracts in the LCS market.

I have only one word to describe the whole HawaiiSuperFiasco- FLAWED

Mahalo,.........Jimmy T

Andy Parx said...

In saying “EIS First” means a complete, valid and honest EIS needs to be performed. And Belt-Collins has already shown that they are not interested in that by the very anti-input way they publicized and conducted the scoping meetings, characterizing them as “informational” until bloggers told people that this was indeed the time to bring forth all the horrors the SF would be bringing... not to mention not taking emailed testimony.

Don’t forget- an EIS can have a “no action” alternative and a FONSI is not a pre-ordained result, in theory. some things simply cannot be mitigated.

We’ve seen these kinds of pseudo and faux EIS efforts before. The real EIS process begins when we challenge the obviously biased and bogus one they’re doing in court.... but I wouldn’t bet on a boat needs concrete poured into its cracks making it that long.

And I so enjoy watching the trolls try to discredit the information with the old “disgruntled employee” gambit- the tool of the guilty employer when they can’t actually impeach the information presented.

I find facts presented by the disgruntled are usually far more researched and reliable than those of the “gruntled” who have reason to make-up and cover-up.. When was the last time a company’s sycophants revealed corporate misconduct, shoddy workmanship and safety violations?

Yeah, the truth always comes from the public relations department and the CEOs.- pay no attention to the guy we screwed blue- he’s just a troublemaker.

MauiBrad said...

I have listened to this a few times now. I think all labor union members here in Hawaii should hear this.

Aloha, Brad

MauiBrad said...

Wayne never claimed to have worked on the Alakai. He claimed to be a current first class welder for Austal, but to have seen and commented to supervisors on the work on the second HSF. Carolyn was the one who claimed to have worked on the Alakai. She is one of the plaintiffs in the Federal racial discrimination lawsuit against Austal-USA. Wayne carefully stated in the interview that he was relying upon reports from other Austal workers who have first hand knowledge about the Alakai in drydock. I think more people here need to listen to the interview again, esp. whoever all the "anonymous'" are, I am guessing either employees or news reporters here in Hawaii who have been reporting nothing on the HSF for a few days now. Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Mahalo Joan for getting the story out. Amazing stuff. Concrete in cracks? Gotta be kidding me.
Jonathan Jay will post transcripts and audio downloads on Island Breath this weekend. Thanx again for getting the scoop out. We'll keep you posted on any further developments. Peace,.......jimmy t


Judging by the discussion here, the show must have been an interesting listen - I'm annoyed I missed it. Are the transcripts / audio available? (I've looked but can't find them...perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place)

Peace

Anonymous said...

I have a few copies available. You can call KKCR (826-7774) and request that I send you one. Leave your address with the office, and ask them to put a note in my box.

Thanks for your interest.

-Katy

Anonymous said...

why not post it online? On the lately-unused KKCR newsblog?

Anonymous said...

That would be great - I don't have the access or the ability to do that, but that's a good reason to call KKCR and request that not only this, but all talk programs be archived and made available online. It would definitely increase traffic on their website!
(KPFA does this and I find tremendous value in it!)

-Katy

Anonymous said...

Some of the worse reporting i've ever read, no wonder it's coming from Kauai. Joan, get a real job and "report" on things you have some kind of clue about.

Anonymous said...

joan, if this the worst ever, keep up the good work! peace

Anonymous said...

Concrete in cracks is a standard temporary marine repair. You wouldn't want to leave it there as it is too heavy and would slow down the vessel.

Anonymous said...

pure one-sided anti-HSF propaganda. It's healthy, as an American, to question authority - but don't be afraid to question those who question authority.