Hawaii Superferry signed a historic agreement with Austal USA that proposes bringing the world’s newest passenger-vehicle catamarans to Hawaiian waters for the development of a commercial high-speed interisland ferry service in Hawaii. Hawaii Superferry plans to use Austal USA-built, high-speed, roll-on/roll-off vessels to create “Hawaii’s Interisland Highway,” with state-of-the-art Austal USA 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-foot catamaran ferry vessels from Mobile, AL-based Austal USA for delivery during 2006-2008 under an exclusive, strategic relationship. The four-story, football-field-sized catamarans, specifically designed for Hawaiian waters, can comfortably transport 900 passengers and up to 280 vehicles, including large trucks and buses, from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in 3 hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in 4 hours, traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
“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. “This initiative will complement ongoing efforts to further enhance ferry service in the tri-islands of Maui County. The economic and social benefits of a ferry system will be significant. The ferries will be an additional way to move cargo from one island to another, and tourists and local residents will have an alternative means to island hop to see our many attractions or to visit family and friends.”
Tim Dick, founder and chairman of Hawaii Superferry, said, “Dozens of similar vessels have been operating on similar, open-ocean ferry routes for 15 years throughout the world, including across the English Channel and on Canary Islands, New Zealand, Mediterranean and Baltic Sea routes. Our specialized catamarans combine
a proven hull form with an advanced computerized ride control system, ensuring a high level of passenger comfort. Bringing this capability to Hawaii will boost interisland travel by residents and visitors alike, at half the cost of air transportation, and make fast, economical, door-to-door freight transporta
tion a reality.”
Chris Pemberton, Austal USA’s vice president of marketing and sales, expressed excitement about the Hawaii Superferry project. “The Austal semi-SWATH catamaran design has proved successful throughout the world and we believe that Hawaii Superferry’s proposed service is an excellent application for our world-leading fast ferry technology,” Pemberton said.
Governor Linda Lingle, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of Hawaii Superferry’s “H-4” concept since her briefing by Hawaii Superferry officials
in September 2003, expressed continued support for the project and hailed today’s announcement as a major milestone in Hawaii’s efforts to provide interisland transportation alternatives. “The development of an interisland ferry service would provide our residents, visitors and businesses with an important new mode of transportation. Improving our state’s transportation infrastructure through the introduction of a fast ferry service will ease some of the constraints on our economy. Our residents and businesses, such as agriculture, will benefit from an additional and possibly more cost-efficient mode of transportation and shipping, thereby facilitating the growth of existing businesses and the creation of new business opportunities,” Lingle said.
John Dean, an investor in Hawaii Superferry, veteran venture capitalist and long-time supporter of the University of Hawaii College of Business Administration’s Kipapa i ke Ala lecture series, said, “Hawaii Superferry is a great example of the best of what is developing within Hawaii’s growing entrepreneurial community with a veteran team, a proven technology, and a product that really works for Hawaii.”