Thursday, February 14, 2002

This Kalaeloa drydock is the subject of a lawsuit against Marisco Ltd. by Pacific Shipyards.

Marisco sued over
Kalaeloa drydock

The dock was intended for
native Alaskan use, competitor
Pacific Shipyards contends

By Russ Lynch

A Hawaii shipyard business has sued a local competitor and a native-Alaskan tribal business for what it says is a racketeering scheme to take over a surplus Navy floating drydock intended for use in Alaska.

The dock was intended to be used for the economic benefit of natives at St. Paul Island, Alaska, and instead has been put to work in competition with private enterprise in Hawaii, according to complainant Pacific Shipyards International.

The consortium of two Hawaii-owned local shipyards filed a federal racketeering and corrupt practices complaint yesterday against Alaskan Aleut business Tanadgusix Corp. and rival Oahu ship-repair business Marisco Ltd.

The lawsuit says Marisco is using the surplus drydock, donated by the Navy to Tanadgusix, for ship repair work at Kalaeloa, formerly the Barbers Point Harbor, when the conditions of the Navy's gift exclude its use outside Alaska.

Meanwhile, Pacific Shipyards invested about $4.5 million to bring a new floating drydock to Hawaii and is getting unfair and illegal competition from Marisco's use of the donated equipment, the lawsuit says.

Marisco did not return calls and the Alaska business could not be reached yesterday, but the lawsuit says they tried repeatedly to get permission to keep their equipment in Hawaii and were denied by the U.S. General Services Administration.

The lawsuit cites GSA letters saying the drydock was for use in Alaska only, for the benefit of the natives at St. Paul Island, Alaska, near Anchorage.

In their initial pitch to the state of Alaska and the federal government, the Alaskans said the drydock, called Ex Competent but officially AFDM-6, would be repaired at Marisco and towed to St. Paul Island. The drydock, which is sunk under vessels and then floated until the ship to be repaired is dry, was worth more than $5 million according to federal documents filed with the lawsuit.

Then Tanadgusix, normally known as TDX, wrote to the government saying moving the equipment to Alaska wasn't financially feasible, it couldn't economically be used "anywhere but where it presently resides in Hawaii" and that allowing it to be used in Hawaii would immediately begin to benefit the Alaskan natives.

The GSA replied use outside Alaska would be illegal.

Pacific Shipyards said in the lawsuit that in mid-January, Marisco began using the Alaskan drydock at Kalaeloa to service the Coast Guard cutter Jarvis.

That was in direct violation of the terms of the Alaskans' acquisition of the drydock, the lawsuit says.

Pacific Shipyards, which brought its new floating drydock to Honolulu's Pier 41 a year ago, is a combination of Honolulu Shipyard Inc. and Honolulu Marine Inc., which joined forces in a new limited liability corporation in May 2000. They are descendants of Dillingham Shipyard, Pacific Marine and other businesses that have been in Hawaii ship repairing for more than 50 years.

William Clifford, managing partner of Pacific Shipyards, said that "what Marisco and TDX have done is wrong" and the donation of the surplus Navy equipment from Pearl Harbor was intended to promote economic development, employment and job training in Alaska.

"However, almost as soon as TDX got the drydock, TDX started taking steps to put the drydock into operation here in the state of Hawaii. The General Services Administration of the United States Government has told TDX in writing they cannot use the drydock in Hawaii. TDX is using it anyway," Clifford said.

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