and Austal USA last month signed an agreement that could result in new passenger-vehicle catamarans for Hawaiian waters to create a commercial high-speed interisland ferry service. Hawaii Superferry plans to use Austal USA-built, high-speed, RoRo vessels to create "Hawaii's Interisland Highway," with catamarans carrying passengers, vehicles and freight between Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island
, beginning in 2006. Under the agreement, Hawaii Superferry plans to purchase two 340-ft. catamaran ferries — able to carry 900 passengers and 280 vehicles, including trucks and buses — for delivery during 2006-2008
"For many years, I have envisioned 'a marine highway' for our islands, so I am pleased with the progress that Hawaii Superferry has made in creating an interisland ferry system that will serve Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye
, who has secured more than $25 million in federal funds for the development of ferry infrastructure. Final funding for the project is pending.