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The Honolulu Advertiser

Advertiser Staff

Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Superferry craft Haiti-bound

 • Hawaii Coast Guard crews fly quake relief missions in Haiti
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

One of two catamarans built for the Hawaii Superferry is being sent to Haiti to help with relief efforts.


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One of two high-speed catamarans built for Hawaii Superferry is being sent to Haiti to help with relief efforts following the devastating earthquake.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the Huakai is among five ships owned or controlled by the federal Maritime Administration being prepared for the relief operation.

"Sending these ships will help those on the front line of this effort save as many lives in Haiti as possible," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement. "These ships will add crucial capabilities by supporting operations to move large volumes of people and cargo."

Huakai was built for Hawaii Superferry but was never used for ferry service in the Islands because the company ceased operations and went bankrupt last year. The Huakai and a sister vessel, the Alakai, have been berthed in a Norfolk, Va., shipyard since last summer.

The Maritime Administration, which guaranteed loans for construction of the catamarans and holds first priority mortgages, took possession of the vessels after they were abandoned by the company.

Austal USA, the Alabama shipbuilder that built the vessels, and the state of Hawai'i, which provided $40 million in harbor improvements, hold second and third mortgages.

The Maritime Administration has looked into the possible sale or charter of the catamarans.