Thursday, February 21, 2008

Musings: Big Boat Breakdown

The clouds shrank before the setting moon this morning, huddling over Waialeale as Koko and I went walking. I missed the little bit of eclipse that was visible in Hawaii, but a friend said he saw the moon rising while paddling in at Hanalei last night, and it looked like the Cookie Monster had bit a piece out of the top.

Meanwhile, rat number two bit the bait and got caught in the trap, and was dispatched before the sun rose, then laid to rest under the camphor tree.

The Pacific Business News reported yesterday that Hawaii Superferry will be laid up for three weeks longer than expected.

It was taken out of service Feb. 13 and set to return March 3, but that date had been extended to March 25 "due to damage to Alakai's hull that occurred during the drydocking process and additional maintenance that was identified while the vessel has been in drydock."

The Advertiser expanded on the story this morning, quoting Hawaii Superferry president and CEO John Garibaldi as saying “the rudder problem is the result of a design flaw, and that staff from shipbuilder Austal USA came to Honolulu to assist with repairs, which involve strengthening the metal around the housing.

Apparently a a similar vessel built by Austal recently experienced the same rudder trouble. But no worries. The big boat is still under warranty, and these repairs are covered.

Speaking of boats, Brad Parsons of Maui has been diligently researching China’s foray into high speed catamarans for military purposes.

As you may recall from earlier posts in this blog, the U.S. military is pushing to develop similar small, versatile craft known as Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) and Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) precisely because of perceived threats from China. But that program has been dogged by the usual delays and cost overruns.

Now it seems that China has apparently beat America to the punch with a missile-armed catamaran designed by an Australian company, AMD. Meanwhile, another Australian company, Austal, is also building an LCS for the American Navy and has bid on a JHSV design contract, for which Hawaii Superferry could be a prototype.

Interesting how the Aussies are working both sides of the street. Of course, they’re not alone in that approach. What’s the old saying? All is fair in love and war — including, it seems, the means for making both.


Mauibrad said...

I was thinking in the past few days that with this China twist this whole local to global story has all the makings of a good book. It could be either non-fiction or a novel. If a novel, I was thinking it would be right up Tom Clancy's alley. I wouldn't be surprised if he was already writing the manuscript however slanted it might be. Aloha, Brad

Mauibrad said...

Check out Juan's and Bill's posts on the damage from the tug boat and state procurement regarding the barge in Kahului at

An Alexandria, VA, contractor associated with LCS was called in to do undone load calculations for the HSF barge, quoting Bill Schultz:

"You'll find an emergency requisition request for the services of a Naval architect regarding a barge in Kahului. It's:

...thought it odd that the requirements and scope of work require that the findings 'shall support assurances that the operations of state owned equipment are in the interest of safety of the operators and the general public', that the report should 'Provide load calculation, stamped by a professional engineer, for the Kahului barge soft line mooring system SHOWING THE ADEQUACY AND INTEGRITY OF THE LINES AND MOORING SYSTEM' (emphasis added) and furthur that 'The calculations should be based on the basis of the original mooring system'.

Apparently, the state had not previously had the load calculations performed by a professional naval architect or they would have simply produced the document at the CG's request after the barge broke loose and the bollards were sheered off.

Would a reputable naval architect agree to the terms of the requested report given that the calculations had not yet been performed but the results are already specified?

Why was the no-bid work awarded to a company as far away as Alexandria, VA when another emergency procurement regarding naval architect services and the barge evaluation was awarded to a local company on the same day?"