Thursday, July 31, 2008


NO, NO- IT’S A JUST WHISKERLESS BARKING CAT: When Larry Geller posted a story about an article from the BYM Marine & Maritime News Wednesday on Hawai`i Superferry (HSf) maker Austal’s final Joint High Speed Vessel proposal to the US Navy he sure didn’t think he’d wind up on the obituary page of the Honolulu Advertiser today

The profoundly exaggerated news of Larry’s demise notwithstanding, his original post pressed others in the local alternative press into action with a lot more details coming from the “owner” of the USS Superferry story Joan Conrow to come up with some expanded coverage, quite obviously spurring a story in this morning’s Advertiser.

They are all a must read. And they all detail how military use of the Superferry is indeed- despite HSf’s past attempts to hide and deny it- moving along quite nicely thank you with a new ramp designed for military use being included in the new “under contraction” HSf and the possible retrofitting of one on the ferry currently in use.

But the real news came from Maui Professor Dick Mayer who did a little digging and provided this from an article today in the Mobile (Alabama) Press-Register. about hometown’s Austal’s prospects for landing the Navy contract to build 10 and maybe more of the military vessels based on the same design as the HSf vessels

The article states:

"We have the trained workforce ready today, we have the facilities available today to support construction, and we have already built a vessel of very similar design right here in Mobile," he said, referring the Hawaii Superferry.

Austal was one of three bidders awarded a design contract in January, and company officials said that they anticipate a contract award before year's end.

But that’s followed by what may be the punch line to the whole HSf joke.

The Mobile shipbuilder also said Wednesday that it had won new work to provide "additional features and equipment on the second Hawaii Superferry to facilitate its use by the military."

Part of a $190-million, two-ship contract, the vessel is being built for Hawaii Superferry Inc. The first superferry is in service in Hawaii, but the company's plan to run an inter-island ferry service has been plagued by environmental protests, and company officials could be positioning the vessel for sale to a third party. (emphasis added)

Browning said he met recently with Thomas Fargo, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who is Hawaii Superferry's chief executive, and there was "no mention" of plans to sell the second vessel.

"However, the national defense features we are adding to HSF 2 would enable the vessel to be chartered to the military if they so desired," Browning said.

Well this drove Conrow up a wall. In today’s post she says:

Now I don’t mind if HSF 2, or even the Alakai, for that matter, is made into a military ship, although it bothers me that the HSF spent so much money lobbying in an effort to get us taxpayers to pick up the tab. But I’m a fan of full disclosure, and when Hawaii Superferry came to town, asking for all sorts of state help and public acceptance for what is proving to be a rather dubious commercial enterprise, I think they should have been totally up front about their military aspirations.

Then we all could have weighed the issue more carefully, and asked such probing questions as whether HSF really is committed to the state for the long haul, or if we’ll be left holding the bag for those expensive harbor improvements, tugboat operations and litigation — and have no alternative form of transportation to show for it.

And then there’s still the unanswered question of why Gov. Lingle went out on such a limb to ensure the Superferry sailed. Surely it wasn’t just the replica of the Alakai she received from top Superferry investor John Lehman, who bequeathed a similar gift on that other key ferry skid-greaser, House Speaker Calvin Say, within months of the special legislative session being convened. (Sen. President Colleen Hamabusa, on the other hand, got only a framed photograph.)

But slow by slow, it seems the truth is being revealed, and perhaps one day the full tale will be told. Somehow, though, I don't think it will be The Advertiser that breaks the story.

In the grifter and carnie world they say the best “mark” is a fellow con artist. Think. the movie, The Sting”.

And it’s now become apparent that we’ve been the perfect suckers.

Lingle, Say, Hamabusa and most of the gullible public took it all at face value when we heard we were going to be magnanimously gifted with an interisland ferry. Thoughts were of a “free lunch” that wouldn’t cost the state taxpayers a nickel in the long run.

But it’s beginning to become painfully obvious that “we was tooken” and former Navy Secretary and 9/11 Commission member Lehman and his military-contractor breakfast club at Lockheed never really planned to help Hawai`i with a new form of inter-island transportation but rather just to demonstrate the prototype ship for his and Austal’s military boondoggle.

So if you were going to pull off this scam to get the Hawai`i pols and taxpayers to support this demonstration project but not lose your shirt in your cockamamie money-losing business plan, you’d have to not only wind up selling the boat to the military once it served it’s purpose but make sure people wouldn’t lynch you when it’s all over.

How? Maybe by intentionally going forward with a bad business, making bad business decisions and purposefully getting people to oppose it to insure the boat would eventually have be sold (to the military) without people even knowing they were conned because they blame themselves- and protesters or environmentalists- for the demise of their “free lunch”.... the best kind of scam of all.

The most superlatively run cons have a partnerships where one of the scammers is also scamming the others because they’re too busy conning others to realize they’re being taken.

Ever wonder why an obvious idiot like Garibaldi was put in charge? Garibaldi thought he was going to con everyone else into actually accepting the ferry, be a hero and make a lot of money. Lingle thought she was going to con everyone to put a higher-office feather in her admiral's cap

Everyone involved was out to con someone into something for their personal enrichment, whether monetary or otherwise including many of the “regular people” who thought they were getting insanely cheap transportation or a way to steal and smuggle back neighbor island resources or at least exploit them on the cheap.

That explains why they tried to deny any military use at first when no one- as Joan said to light our bulb- would have really cared if it was indeed a ferry project for Hawai`i and also a demonstration of the catamaran design for military purposes.

Normally you’d think they’d promote it. Why would they hide it?

Well maybe, if their plan all along was really to leave us high and dry so to speak, they were afraid people would look back and see the real purpose once they were “forced” to sell HSf’s boats to the military.

We in the islands - even those who support HSf- keep asking ourselves how these guys could be so stupid as to their business plan, their machinations with the state, the EIS debacle, the “in-your-face, Supreme Court” attitude that caused the Kaua`i protests to swell, all the PR blunders, starting service in the winter-swell season and other idiocies?

The most rabid Superferry proponent even asks “how could these people be so stupid.”

The answer is they weren’t and aren’t.. Nobody is that stupid. They always had this as their real plan.

How do we know- The same way the bunko squad does- when you use that as a premise, everything else falls into place and makes perfect sense.

You don’t even have to connect any dots but rather think about what makes all this “make sense”. Then you see the real reason they tried to deny, cover-up and hush up the military connection until the uproar in the alternative press got so loud the newspapers had to cover it..

But let us know if you still don’t believe this- we may have a bridge to the neighbor islands to sell you. Maybe you can sail your ferry under it.


Anonymous said...

i still think the 'protesters' were paid off by the airlines, container ship and rental car companies!

Katy said...

Where's my check?

Anonymous said...

I have trouble understanding why you're all so surprised. Austal sells boats for several applications, not just ferries. Its never been a secret. Its less wasteful to design a multi-purpose vessel - remember "reduce, RE-USE, recycle". These vessels usually have several different roles before they get to the scrap yard. By the way, the HSF is made of 100% recyclable aluminum. Austal may not be the smartest business out there, but there is certainly nothing sinister about their plans for military ships.

Anonymous said...

Why Joan is worked up over this (more than any other pork barrel project) is beyond me.

These boats have a lot in common with the NCL ships that began as APL new builds. They were pork barrel projects for the shipyards in Sen Trent Lott's home town area -- Pascagoula MS/Mobile AL. He was Senate Majority leader at the time this crap was thunk up.

Just like Bob Byrd's 1001 projects named after himself or the bridge to nowhere pushed by the now indicted Ted Stevens or the many many projects pushed by Sen Inouye, the motivation for building these things is more about the profit potential/getting re-elected than anything else. The conspiracy is right out in the open. It's just business as usual with the military industrial complex.

So they have modifications to make them useful in case the military needs them. Rah. If we actually had another real war instead of just Imperial adventurism, we might be glad of that.

Mauibrad said...

Andy, This is funny and well written, and I think quite possibly on point..."how could they be that stupid...maybe they weren't." Except for John G, it is hard to believe all the rest could be that stupid. Even with John G., I knew some Hawaiian pilots and they all did not trust him but thought he was capable. I think you are exactly right though that each of the players was trying to run their own con while their other players were trying to con them. Some look more stupid than others. Aloha, Brad