Austal Ferries Auctioned

Superferry's twin hulled ALAKAI, seen here prior to her service in Hawaiian waters, at Long Beach, CA, June 2007. Photo Shawn Dake (c) 2007.

The super ferries HUAKI and ALAKAI were auctioned off on the steps of U.S. District Court in Norfolk, VA yesterday.

Following the bankruptcy filing by Hawaii Superferry Inc., a judge ruled that the owners could abandon the two super ferries to lenders back in 2009. This past May, the US Federal Government sued to get title of the two vessels. Both were auctioned by U.S. Marshals Service yesterday and bought by the U.S. Maritime Administration for US$25 million each.

A Maritime Administration spokesperson said that there may a possible deal involving the US Navy, which expressed interest in the ferries last year.

ALAKAI, the US-built, twin hulled, 107 meter ferry, had traveled from her builders at Mobile, AL, (via Long Beach, CA) to Hawaii to launch a new interisland service in June 2007. Work on the second Austal-built ferry, (also intended to ferry passengers and cars between Oahu and the Big Island) was halted in October 2008, as a result of the poor economy. However, the route was subsequently halted by the courts. Hawai’i’s Supreme Court ruled that a law that had allowed ALAKAI to operate pending an environmental review was unconstitutional. ALAKAI (which means “Ocean Path”) had shuttled passengers and cars between Oahu and Maui for more than a year and then departed the islands March 28, 2009 for a three week return voyage to Mobile, Alabama for lay up.

In January 2010 ALAKAI, with her unique speed and combined cargo and passenger capability, was sent to Haiti for earthquake relief operations.

For now, the two ships remain tied up at Lambert’s Point Docks, Norfolk, VA.


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