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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:45 p.m., Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Superferry calls off Kauai trips for now

Advertiser Staff


Superferry passengers wait at the entry to the passenger drop-off area where the gate remained locked as security personnel were briefed that the Superferry would not sail to Kaua'i.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A Superferry employee opens the gate to the passenger drop-off area where passengers could enter the terminal to get a refund or voucher for the canceled trip to Kaua'i. Superferry is offering refunds or vouchers and is paying for taxi rides home.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii Superferry officials have indefinitely called off future trips to Kaua'i, officials announced today.

Following the cancellation of a trip to the Garden Isle today, John Garibaldi, the Superferry's president and chief executive officer, said the decision to suspend operations indefinitely was made after consultation with Gov. Linda Lingle and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard had informed Superferry executives today that it could not guarantee the ferry's safe passage into Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua'i.

"I'm really saddened by the current situation but I'm heartened by the future of the long-term relationship that we are developing with a lot of people here in the state," Garibaldi told reporters at an afternoon news conference at Superferry headquarters.

Arrangements will be made to bring back passengers and vehicles who took the Superferry to Kaua'i before today, Garibaldi said.

The company called off its planned 3 p.m. trip to Kaua'i today, saying the U.S. Coast Guard could not guarantee the safe passage of the boat into Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua'i.

Yesterday, a flotilla of protesters at the mouth of Nawiliwili Harbor prevented the Supeferry from making a scheduled stop and it returned to O'ahu.

The Superferry said in a statement today: "At 1 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard informed Hawaii Superferry that, contrary to previous assurances, it can no longer guarantee a safe passage for the Alakai and its passengers into and out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua'i. Hawaii Superferry will suspend service until the U.S. Coast Guard notifies management it is safe to use the harbor facilities at Nawiliwili."

Gov. Linda Lingle said today she had asked the Superferry not to attempt another trip to Kaua'i today.

"I'm concerned about the safety of people," Lingle told reporters after speaking this afternoon at a tourism conference at the Hawai'i Convention Center. "We have reason to believe they would be in the water again trying to stop a huge vessel on a surfboard, and that's a recipe for a serious problem.

"So we're asking Superferry, don't go in, let's make certain that the public safety is protected."