Hawaii Superferry Told To Halt Operations
The Hawaii Superferry “Alakai” is a 350-foot Catamaran that was built to carry over 200 cars and 866 passengers between the various Hawaiian Islands. The Superferry is not only a scenic way for vacationers to travel between islands, it is also an economical way for locals to visit friends and relatives on the other islands.
Right from the start, the superferry was embroiled in legal issues stemming from environmental impact statements. Some felt that the legal process was not followed properly. Being a catamaran, the superferry is capable of achieving speeds of up to 35 knots. There is some concern that the superferry could run over and harm marine life such as whales, turtles, and dolphins. Other issues centered on the unrestricted transport of vehicles over open waters and possible introduction of invasive species to another island.
In 2005, the state of Hawaii exempted the superferry from environmental review. The island of Kauai heavily protested the superferry and so in 2007, it began to run between Oahu and Kahului, Maui only.
After the 2005 exemption, the Supreme Court ruled that an environmental study was still needed. In early 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that a state law allowing the Superferry to operate without the proper environmental impact statement is unconstitutional.
On March 17, 2009 management representing the Hawaii Superferry announced it will cease operations for the present. The company statement reads “While the appeal is not yet final because a judgment on appeal has not been entered, we want to proceed prudently and have decided to cease operations for the present.” They went on to announce they will make one more round trip on Thursday, March 19th to enable residents to get their vehicles back home.