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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hawaii Superferry answers on past, present, future

 •  Hawaii Superferry fought need for EIS

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The Alakai, Hawaii Superferry's first vessel, has been mired in controversy and protests over its launch of service.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawaii Superferry president and CEO John Garibaldi, here in the ferry’s Hahalua Lounge, took on The Advertiser’s Hot Seat on Friday.

DEBORAH BOOKER | July 3, 2007

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Hawaii Superferry president and CEO John Garibaldi appeared on The Hot Seat Friday and fielded questions from readers during a live blog chat. Here is an excerpt from that community conversation. To read the entire conversation, go to www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Opinion.

Burt Furuta: I am glad the Superferry is in Hawai'i, but I would like to know why you didn't conduct an EIS (environmental impact statement) two years ago when the county councils of Hawai'i, Maui, and Kaua'i requested one? I know the Lingle administration waived the requirement, but don't you think you need to work with the communities you wish to serve?

John Garibaldi: Hawaii Superferry has complied with all the state and federal requirements over the past six years. There was no requirement from the federal or state officials for an environmental review. This is consistent for all other operators who have started service in our harbors or introduced new or expanded services. We have done extensive work in the environmental area and have worked extensively with the communities in addressing issues. We are extremely proud of the work we have done, which has exceeded state requirements.

Uncle Aina: Since Hawai'i is one state with one set of laws, and since public funds were used for the HSF-specific improvements on both islands, why do you think that the injunction issued to prevent use of Maui's harbor does not apply to Kaua'i?

Garibaldi: The TRO issued in Maui only applies to Maui since that is the original jurisdiction of that case. No party from any other county filed suit in 2005 when the issue was open.

Joshuatree: Mr. Garibaldi, if supposedly the end result is a negative one for Superferry, do you envision the boats as being any use to O'ahu's mass transit issue instead? The island is about to try a commuter ferry and I see a boat being able to ship cars from West O'ahu to downtown or Windward to downtown as being very useful. I hope the current issue can be resolved but if not, I hope there is a back-up plan. It would be a waste of resources building these two boats for nothing.

Garibaldi: We at Hawaii Superferry are looking forward to the day of connecting families coming from Maui and Kaua'i to O'ahu with the upcoming intra-island ferry.

TM: What is the problem with at least doing an impact review? The people will welcome the ferry with open arms if that is done without any problems.

Garibaldi: Please check out our Web site at www.hawaiisuperferry.com, where we have an extensive environmental review document posted.

Tom McAuliffe: First, on behalf of the majority of the citizens of Hawai'i, please allow me to apologize for the behavior of the radical vocal minority.

1) As the state and Department of Transportation told Hawaii Superferry that it did not need to do an EA, what is the state's liability to HSF in the case that you not be allowed to operate?

2) Is it true that HSF has done most of the work required for an EA, and how long do you feel it will take to comply with the court's ruling?

3) The HSF has forward-looking radar/sonar for whale avoidance. Please discuss your "whale avoidance policy" and how it was developed.

Garibaldi: As to question 1, we are focused currently on serving our customers and getting ready for the restart of service.

As to question 2, I believe the length of time can vary anywhere from a few months to longer. We have done a significant amount of work in this area.

Our Web site has our whale avoidance policy posted. It has been developed with the cooperation of many whale experts. HSF continues to monitor the availability of forward-looking sonar, which is not currently available.

Michael J. Bowles: Why did you build the first vessel without its own ramp, thus relying on the state to supply barge-based ramps? What was the reasoning behind using unlimited licensed officers supplied through Hornblower rather that hiring local people for the officer staff?

Garibaldi: Austal's design of our vessels does not include ramps since each of our ports are different and there wasn't a common solution.

We are proud to have the leading fast ferry vessel operator be associated with us. We also take great pride in knowing that most of our marine crew is from Hawai'i, including a number that have been able to come home.

Uncle Benji: The Advertiser stated you expressed frustration that protesters were disobeying laws, thus prohibiting safe docking by the Superferry in Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua'i. You were quoted in regard to this, saying that "We're saddened that people aren't taking this seriously if laws are being violated." Do you find it ironic that these protests have arisen out of your company's disregard for the law?

Second, you've made comments saying Hawai'i supports the Superferry. Has your company conducted any official polls, surveys, or has your company ever formally sought public feedback?

Finally, do you regret not conducting an EIS when you should have two years ago?

Garibaldi: Hawaii Superferry is in full compliance with both federal and state laws.

We periodically conduct polls which show tremendous levels of support and participated this past year in over 22 public informational briefings.

With respect to environmental work, I would refer you to previous comments and our Web site with our entire environmental commitment document.

KELI'I: Why did you push up the launch after learning that the Hawai'i Supreme Court ruled in favor of having an EA done?

Garibaldi: Hawaii Superferry's initiation of service on Aug. 26 was actually the second time we had pushed up the start date. Our company was ready to start service after months of training, Coast Guard certification and public demand.

Mama: Does the Superferry have any connection to the Stryker Brigade?

Garibaldi: Absolutely not!