Thursday, January 3, 2008

Musings: Lifting the Veil

Koko was literally hopping when we set out this morning, because the chickens were up and about, and that urge to chase and kill always gets her excited. I wasn’t hopping, or experiencing any bloodlust, but I was excited, too, just from being out in the world.

A thin, white moon could be seen overhead, waterfalls coursed down mountains draped in pink mist and the sun was struggling valiantly to break free of the clouds.

It lost that battle, and a gentle shower accompanied us for the final half-mile, the kind of light rain that falls at a slant, each drop visible. I got to thinking about how the sun is such a strong, burning force, yet so often it’s hidden by flimsy, unsubstantial clouds.

And that got me thinking about how the deeper meaning, the fireball, of so many things remains hidden behind a veil that effectively obscures, but does not obliterate.

Such is the case with Hawaii Superferry. The veil, in this case, is the rhetoric that accompanied its arrival: all the talk about uniting the islands, providing an alternative form of transportation, helping farmers get their produce to market, bringing `ohana together.

But I felt the fireball, the true purpose, behind the ferry remained hidden.

Why, I so often wondered, had it come to Hawaii? And why did it stay, through lawsuits and protests, when its own principles admitted it could make money elsewhere?

Why was J.F. Lehman & Co., the private equity firm of a man who was formerly Secretary of the Navy and a member of the 9/11 Commission, a firm that invests almost solely in defense related industries, putting $58 million into a passenger ferry service?

Why was Gov. Linda Lingle expending such tremendous political capital to push the ferry forward without an environmental review? Why was she, a Republican, able to get the Democrat-controlled Legislature to do her bidding?

Why the big rush to get the ferry operating, even though its start date coincided with the season of rough waters that prompted widespread seasickness among its passengers and numerous days of cancelled service?

And how in the world was it going to make any money with such low passenger counts, no service to Kauai and fuel prices that just keep edging upwards?

I heard often that its true purpose was military in nature, that it was intended to transport the Styrker brigade between Oahu and the Big Island. While I didn’t doubt that explanation, it didn’t fully answer all my questions. If that was the case, why didn’t it start with service to the Big Island? And would the Strykers really be moving often enough to warrant such a service?

Then one day I got a phone call from a man who urged me to read a column by Bill Gertz published Dec. 28, 2007 in The Washington Times. Subtitled “Notes from the Pentagon,” it included this account:

Navy v. China
 The chief of naval operations told Congress yesterday that the U.S. Navy is building up its forces to be ready to challenge a future military threat from China.

Adm. Gary Roughead was asked by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing what steps were being taken by the Navy to address China's large-scale naval buildup.

"We look at the capabilities that navies have that are evolving, China being one of them," Adm. Roughead said. "And that has driven our advancements in certain capabilities, whether it be in anti-submarine warfare, ballistic missile defense, the command-and-control capabilities that we need on our ships as we operate globally as a global Navy."

Asked whether China's military buildup has prompted planning for more submarines, more missiles and more aircraft, Adm. Roughead said, "yes, sir."

The four-star admiral said one example is the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship that is made for fighting near coasts but also is "capable of running and providing enhanced [anti-submarine warfare] capability to our more traditional battle formations, our expeditionary strike groups and carrier strike groups."

The new ship is "a function of the need that we see for anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare and anti-surface warfare capability in areas where we see the threat evolving," he said, "to include China."

Hmmm, I thought, this is very interesting, so I began checking into the Navy's experimental x-hull craft, as the caller had suggested, saying its design and aluminum composition was “eerily similar” to the Superferry’s.

He was right, as you can see for yourself:

And so began many hours of investigation, the fruits of which I will be revealing in subsequent posts aimed at lifting the veil and exposing the multi-billion-dollar fireball beneath.


Anonymous said...

Nice segue, as usual...tho' I don't think anything will ever top the "Koko sniffing.....and I smell a rat" from the other day. ;-)

Military and civilian aircraft look remarkably similar that primarily because the general design is an efficient way to move through the troposphere or is it something more sinister?

Occams' razor. Maybe advances in naval engineering found that the split-hull design is one of the more efficient ways to move through the water.

Anonymous said...

I think of Maslow's statement: "If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

If the "hammer" is a profound distrust of government and capitalism at all levels, then every "problem" (observance of the social scene, as oft reported here) seems like a "nail" (conspirasy).

Also, as Freud (or Jung...I forget) said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Of course, the opposite is SOMETIMES true: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you."

Pay your money and take your goes on.

Take it easy, but take it.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Mike, although doing this multi-part Superferry piece will challenge my segue skills. To you and Gadfly I say, this is just part one. When it's all laid out, then we'll see if I have made a legitimate case. In the meantime, though, I welcome comments and info. I'm looking at this as an interactive piece of journalism.

Anonymous said...

Nice start. Like that last picture. Had not seen that. "X-hull" did you call it?

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Companies aren't in business to lose money. If their actions look counter-intuitive it 's usually because we don't know their true goals. Follow the money and the truth will be revealed.

Anonymous said...

Any more cliches, Horsefly? As the Beatles sang, "Get back to where you once belong". In your case, that would be manure.

Anonymous said...

Joan and paula,

Joan, I had assumed you had seen this. Paula, the goal is already known, money followed, and truth revealed.

Sunday, December 23, 2007
The Goal...JHSV
It's not necessarily a bad goal...just not right for these sanctuary waters. It would be better to just tell it to the people straight.

The Joint High Speed Vessel program is a Navy-led acquisition of a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intra-theater transport of medium sized cargo payloads. JHSV will reach speeds of 35-45 knots and allow for the rapid transit and deployment of conventional or special forces as well as equipment and supplies.

The Navy plans to award Phase One preliminary design contracts in early 2008, and a detail design and construction contract in the fourth Quarter of FY08.

See the following links/articles:

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Those JHSV links again, you'll have to cut and paste them into your browser:

See the following links/articles:

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

The veil is finally lifted!

For more evidence check these other evil huge military vessels that have been secretly masquerading as ordinary ferries for many years. Some are profiteering private companies - others are even worse: instruments of the U.S. government, paid for by YOUR taxes.

These dangerous fast car ferries (some of which are even bigger and faster than the hawaii ferry) operate in Alaska, Maine, Greece, Trinidad, Turkey, Spain and Asia. For some places they are the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

I'm 100% for all such vessels.

Go military-industrial complex expansion!

It's good for me, anyway. Always has been.

Take it easy, but take it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Foster has a nice article today summarizing thoughts on the NYT article "Not in My Tropical Backyard".

My response, which applies here as well:

"Many years ago, it used to be said that the east end of mainland US was tiped up and everyone "loose" rolled into California.

Now,they've fallen off CA/OR/WA and drifted to HI.

The last stand of aging hippies, new-age anti-capitalist/military types, etc.

Once their platform fails, which it surely must in due time, where will they go then?

There's nice property in Figi..."

Kauai is becomming like Maui..Maui is becomming (became?) like Oahu...the Big Island lags the trend because of its size but it's moving in the same direction.

And there's not a damn thing you can do about it. It's like trying to stop a glacier.

It's just a matter of how long it will take and how long is your lifespan? That will dictate whether "paradise" will maintain for you. Me? 25-30 years on the Big Island. That works out just fine.

Anonymous said...

I like your last post, Freud.

BTW, you forgot to insert "evil" before "US government" in your previous post.

You can't expect to be embraced by the local crowd unless you do so. Maybe just use "EUSG" instead.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to track down the veracity of what I'll call a "rumor"- that in order for the Superferry to obtain a military (or possible any federal) contract it must be in operation for at least six months.

Can anyone shed light on this- I haven't had time to work hard on tracking down the truth of it but preliminary "asking around" has only yielded the same rumor aspect of the claim.

If anyone knows or finds out anything please let me or us know.

Andy Parx

Anonymous said...

godfly, you can't stop a glacier but mother nature can. global warming has done so all around our planet. this will also be the result for the global industrial military complex sustained by the petro-economy which in case you have'nt noticed is in its dying daze! those folks in fiji are setting themselves up for a supreme island lifestyle so long as the military doesn't screw it up for them(and everyone else)

Anonymous said...

Well, there are NIMBY's and CAVE'ers.

Added to that list are the NIMLT'ers (not in my life time).

For example, if scientists were in universal agreement that a giant astroid would surely hit Earth on a given date 50 years out and cause near-universal destruction, what would I do?

Not a damn thing. Not my problem!

Maybe I'd figure out a way to profit from the "headless chicken" behavior that would surely begin in the near-term.

Like an old friend told me one time, his watchword was: "I'm not here to help you find gold...I'm here to sell you shovels!"

Anonymous said...

Freud said...

BTW, Freud, that first fast ferry in Trinidad & Tobago was previously the Incat "Lynx" in New Zealand where it failed under lease and was returned to Incat to be leased out again in T&T. These fast ferries have failed in a number of locations before they find a temporary home. I would say fast ferries do not belong in a whale sanctuary and are/will fail here to be redeployed in some other location/capacity. Aloha, Brad