Superferry-like military vessels may be based in Hawaii; Army to conduct EIS
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Army today said it plans to look at the environmental impact of basing up to three “joint high speed vessels” in Pearl Harbor — a craft similar to the defunct Hawaiçi Superferry.
Last March, Hawaiçi Superferry shut down operations after the Hawaiçi Supreme Court ruled the company couldn’t operate without completing an environmental impact statement. The company filed for bankruptcy in May.
The Superferry’s Alakai catamaran was 349 feet long and could carry 866 passengers and up to 282 cars. The joint high-speed vessels will be 338 feet, according to the Navy-led acquisition effort for the Navy and Army vessels.
The U.S. Army Environmental Command said it intends to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement for the basing and operation of up to 12 of the ships.
The environmental analysis will consider the impacts of stationing the military catamarans in the Virginia Tidewater area; San Diego; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; Pearl Harbor area; and Guam.
The joint high-speed vessel “is a strategic transport vessel designed to support the rapid transport of military troops and equipment in the U.S. and abroad,” according to U.S. Army Environmental Command.
The Army said it will look at three options. The first option is stationing five high-speed vessels at port facilities in the U.S. or its territories as well as overseas locations, with up to three vessels at any one of the above locations.
A second option the Army said it will examine is the basing of 12 high-speed vessels with up to three vessels at any one location. The Army said it also would examine a “no action” alternative.
High-speed vessel detachments consist of a 31-member crew and can accommodate up to 360 additional soldiers. The vessels can reach speeds of 35 to 45 knots and have an equipment carrying capacity of about 700 short tons.