The moon, a thinner sliver today than yesterday, and in the company of a few stars, shone down intermittently, obscured at times by drifting wisps, when the dogs and I went walking this morning, skirting puddles left by showers that fell frequently in the night. At the end of the street, clouds massed, a dull mustard-yellow, promising more rain, but also some sun.
What sort of promises, or payoffs, or both, do you suppose were made to those who paved the way for the Hawaii Superferry, from inception through delivery to the Navy at rock bottom prices? 'Cause yup, it's official, that's where the two big boats are headed.
It seems the National Defense Authorization Act, which I've written about recently, contains more than just alarming language that allows the military to lock up folks indefinitely — apparently even Americans in America — on the mere suspicion of terrorist activity. It also includes this provision:
“SEC. 1026. TRANSFER OF CERTAIN HIGH-SPEED FERRIES TO THE NAVY.
(a) TRANSFER FROM MARAD AUTHORIZED.—The Secretary of the Navy may, subject to appropriations, from funds available for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2012, provide to the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation an amount not to exceed $35,000,000 for the transfer by the Maritime Administration to the Department of the Navy of jurisdiction and control over… M/V HUAKAI… [and]... M/V ALAKAI… [to be] administered as a Department of Defense sealift vessel….”
A link to the story, which was reported by Defense Industry Daily under the headline “Hawaii Superferry’s Bankruptcy = US Navy Opportunity” was sent to me by a journalist friend in California, along with the message:
Here's something in an obscure military newsletter I get on the Super Ripoff.
we all called this fucking thing for exactly what it is.
I figure these MFs had help from inside the agencies, too. Well paid with "fees," too.
During our time together we have seen this whole conspiracy unfold. Wonder who all got paid off in Hawai'i.....
Yeah, I wonder.
I'm sure it's all just a coincidence, but I did spot an announcement a few weeks back that Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, (Ret.) — remember him? President and CEO of HSF Holdings/Hawaii Superferry and Managing Director of J.F. Lehman and Co., the firm founded by former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman that was the controlling private investor in the HSF project, putting up $85.2 million of the $92.9 million issued in preferred stock? — had been appointed to the Board of Directors of Alexander & Baldwin, one of Hawaii's largest landowners. The release press release said he was picked for his “extensive maritime and leadership expertise...and his deep commitment to the Hawaii community.”
Umm, I suppose that's one way to spin the background of a guy who tried to shove an enterprise that ultimately went bankrupt down the throats of folks who didn't want it, spawning virulent protests, lawsuits and a state Supreme Court decision that found Gov. Lingle had erred, even though she still claims she didn't.
And interesting how Colleen Hanabusa, head of the state Senate when they passed the sham law allowing HSF to run while it completed an EIS it should've done from the get-go, is now in Congress.
Getting back to the Defense Industry Daily article, it reports:
In his April 6/09 discussion of the FY 2010 budget Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said that the US military wanted to charter another 2 “JHSV-like” fast catamaran ships from 2009-2011, until the JHSV ships begin arriving.
One obvious stopgap option is the Hawaiian Superferry catamarans, a larger pair of Austal-built ships that resemble the Westpac Express. They were even pressed into service when Haiti’s disaster struck, but the actual sale of the ships by US MARAD has been a much slower process…
Dec 19/11: The Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which will soon become law, looks set to settle this issue, and send both Superferries to US MSC alongside the future JHSV vessels:
Queries to MSCFE reveal that the larger Huakai ferry will replace the HSV Westpac Express, supporting CG III Marine Expeditionary Force between Okinawa, mainland Japan and Korea, with occasional runs to the Philippines and Thailand. That won’t happen immediately, however, because MV Huakai “will need significant mods before she can support III MEF mission.” The Huakai is expected to have longer range than Westpac Express’ 1,200nm maximum, and they expect her to be ready before October 2012.
The mission for the smaller ship, MV Alakai, is said to still be under review. Both the Caribbean/Latin America (SOUTHCOM) and AFRICOM are seen as strong possibilities.
It all kinda makes me think of a comment that former Sen. Gary Hooser (one of those who didn't vote for the sham law) left on Andy Parx's blog last week:
We need good people on the inside willing to work with the system and people on the outside banging on the walls and doors, reminding all about what democracy is all about.
Oh, we be banging, Gary. But we just can't seem to dislodge those bad people on the inside.