Highly charged environmental protests and
legal challenges forced Hawaii Superferry last week to indefinitely
suspend its operations, just two days after the interisland
transportation service launched.
over the ferry service also spurred Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to
call for Hawaii Superferry to temporarily cease
published reports, the Maui Circuit Court denied Hawaii
Superferry's motion to lift a temporary restraining order, filed by
environmentalists prohibiting the ferry's operations to Maui's
Kahului Harbor. Another hearing is slated for Sept. 6, the day the
temporary restraining order expires. Nevertheless, the company
indicated that it was determined to eventually resume
believes it has a very viable operation," said a company
began accepting reservations on June 29, offering travelers a
special $5 introductory fare to try the service between Oahu and
Maui and Oahu and Kauai. "Sales were steady and brisk," the
The ferry's first
day of operations began at 6 a.m. on Aug. 26. The following day, as
the 350-foot ferry approached Kauai's Nawiliwili Harbor, it was met
by dozens of surfboard-riding protestors who tried to form a
blockade preventing the vessel from entering into the harbor,
according to published reports. Other protestors gathered at the
pier where the vessel was to dock.
protest, the ferry was escorted to the harbor by U.S. Coast Guard
zodiacs. The ferry was eventually able to dock, but only after
significant delays and intervention from local law
On Aug. 28, Hawaii
Superferry officials held a press conference and said service to
Kauai would be suspended indefinitely after the Coast Guard
informed them that, in light of the environmental protests, it
could not assure safe passage into the harbor.
"Our top priority
is to operate a safe and reliable ferry system for Hawaii's
residents," said John Garibaldi, Hawaii Superferry's president and
CEO. "When that can be accomplished, we will resume
Earlier in the
month, Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled that the state government
should have conducted an environmental-impact study before
permitting Hawaii Superferry to operate, overturning a lower
groups contend that an environmental study is needed to determine
whether the ferry will be harmful to whales and other sea
Superferry spokesperson countered that the company had complied
with the state's environment regulations.
"For more than
three years, Hawaii Superferry has met all the requirements of the
state Department of Transportation, including provisions pertaining
to environmental review," the spokesperson said.
"The same careful
attention to regulatory compliance and overall responsiveness has
been applied to the protection of whales, safety and security
issues, community and harbor users, prevention of the spread of
invasive species and traffic management."
Meanwhile, with its
operations suspended, Hawaii Superferry teamed with Aloha Airlines
and Hawaiian Airlines to offer special fares to passengers that had
booked Superferry tickets.
first vessel, the Alakai, is capable of carrying 866 passengers,
282 cars and 28 trucks. The company intends to launch a sister ship
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].