Hawaii Superferry officials were heading to
court today to challenge a restraining order filed by
environmentalists that would block its inter-island transportation
service into Maui.
While the company
could not be reached for comment, a statement on its Web site said
"We are hopeful to continue service to Maui beginning on
order is the latest challenge to Hawaii Superferry during a highly
charged, 48-hour period in which protests by environmental groups
forced the company to "indefinitely" suspended operations into
Kauai as well.
began accepting reservations on June 29 for its inaugural service
and offered travelers a special $5 introductory fare to sample the
services between Oahu and Maui (daily) and Oahu and Kauai (six days
relatively uneventful, day of operations began at 6 a.m. Aug.
The following day,
however, environmental groups staged a protest against the service
as it approached Kauai's Nawiliwili Harbor that afternoon. There,
the 350-foot ferry, the Alakai, was met by dozens of protestors
riding surfboards, who attempted to block the vessel's entry into
the harbor, while others gathered at the pier where the vessel
protest, the Alakai was escorted by U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The
ferry was eventually able to dock, but only after significant
delays and intervention from law enforcement.
The protest was
staged against a backdrop in which Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled on
Aug. 23 that the state's government should have conducted an
environment impact study before permitting the Hawaii Superferry to
The Supreme Court's
ruling overturned a lower court's July 2005 decision permitting the
service after environmental groups filed suit against
On Aug. 28, Hawaii
Superferry officials held a press conference officially suspending
service after the Coast Guard informed them that, in light of the
environmental protests, it could not ensure safe passage of the
"Our top priority
is to operate a safe and reliable ferry system for Hawaii's
residents," said Hawaii Superferry President and CEO, John
Garibaldi during the press conference. "When that can be
accomplished, we will resume service."
an Austrian-built, catamaran-designed, vessel is capable of
carrying 866 passengers, 282 cars and 28 trucks.
The company intends
to launch a sister ship in 2009 for service between Oahu and the
Big Island and a second daily trip between Oahu and
contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].