Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hawaii Inter-Island Ferry Redux

The February 11, 2010 edition of Stars and Stripes reports that the Army is considering purchasing up to a dozen high-speed vessels similar to the ones used by the now-defunct Hawaii Superferry interisland ferry service. See Army Mulls High-speed Water Transports.

Unlike the Hawaii Superferry's failed attempt at bringing Hawaii its first, statewide inter-island ferry service, the Army will first complete the required environmental studies that the Hawaii Superferry failed to do. See Hawaii Supreme Court Publishes Superferry Opinion.

The Army currently plans to use its ferry service to support the rapid transport of military troops and equipment in the U.S. and abroad. If successful, the Army's ferry service could reopen the door to a civilian ferry service. An inter-island ferry service for Hawaii would serve a vital role in connecting families and local markets.

Activist groups, like Sierra Club-Hawaii, have noted concerns about the possiblity that the catamarans will transfer invasive species between the islands and collide with humpback whales who winter in Hawaii's waters. These impacts will likely be identified, studied, and mitigated as part of the Army's environmental process.

For more on environmental issues related to ferry service in Hawaii, see Hawaii Superferry.

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