Turbulent times for Superferry


POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Superferry was beset with hurdles and challenges from the beginning:

» February 2005 — State determines that the Hawaii Superferry operations were exempt from an environmental review, which must be done under state law prior to the start of activity.

» Aug. 23, 2007 — Hawaii Supreme Court rules that environmental laws require the state to review the impact of Superferry operations on the environment. Ruling overturns 2005 decision by Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza.

» Aug. 24, 2007 — Superferry officials announce they are moving up the scheduled launch by two days, with one-way fares at $5 per person and per vehicle.

» Aug. 26, 2007 — Inaugural voyage. Superferry's Alakai leaves Honolulu for Kahului Harbor and returns, but the afternoon cruise to Kauai is met by protesters who prevent it from docking at Nawiliwili Harbor.

» Aug. 27, 2007 — Judge Cardoza issues order banning Superferry operations to Maui until the state conducts an environmental review in response to three citizen groups' complaints filed by the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow Foundation and the Kahului Harbor Coalition. Superferry decides to suspend service to Kauai as well.

» Oct. 31 2007 — The Hawaii Legislature passes Act 2 in a special session, allowing the Superferry to operate while the state prepares an environmental impact statement.

» Nov. 14, 2007 — Cardoza lifts his ban on Superferry operations to Maui because of Act 2.

» Dec. 13, 2007 — Superferry resumes service between Honolulu and Maui, though it is disrupted by high waves and repairs.

» Dec. 17, 2007 — Auditor slams state on Superferry, saying it ignored the state's own long-standing policy and environmental laws.

» Feb. 9, 2008 — Plagued by weather- and equipment-related shutdowns, Hawaii Superferry places the Alakai in dry dock two months in advance of its mandatory maintenance. Repairs are extended until April.

» Feb. 29, 2008 — Sierra Club and two other groups file formal notice that they will appeal Cardoza's ruling and go directly to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

» April 25, 2008 — Retired Navy Adm. Thomas Fargo, former head of the U.S. Pacific Command, succeeds John Garibaldi as president and CEO of Hawaii Superferry.

» Aug. 18, 2008 — State and Superferry file legal briefs defending Act 2.

» Aug. 19, 2008 — Superferry celebrates its 125,000th passenger.

» Oct. 28, 2008 — Superferry postpones introduction of second ship and start of service to the Big Island for about one year.

» February 2009 — Superferry promotion offers one-way passenger fares for $39.

» Feb. 2-17 — Alakai is dry-docked at Honolulu Harbor for annual maintenance and certification required by the U.S. Coast Guard.

» March 16 — Hawaii Supreme Court rules that the state law allowing the Superferry to operate while an environmental impact statement was conducted is unconstitutional. The court sends the case back to Circuit Court.

Source: Star-Bulletin archives and Hawaii Superferry