Saturday…Superferry saga continues, State DOT gets suicide bomber detection system, and a Toby update

Well, the Superferry Alakai and its sister ship are now docked in Virginia waiting a possible lease deal with the Navy, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

But even that deal apparently isn’t straight forward.

Legal issues with the maritime administration related to its loan guarantees to build the ferries and operate them commercially would have to be resolved, Stiller said.

“If a transfer were to be made, those would be issues,” Clark said in an interview Friday. “Our purpose is to support the merchant marine.”

Meanwhile, the public still paying the bills for the ships. There’s the bill for the $40 million in harbor improvements that the state now will have to foot the bill for. There was the $125,000 emergency contract to move the barge left behind by the Superferry in Kahului Harbor before it caused serious damage. According to the state’s written justification of the emergency request, “any slight increase in swell and surge may lead to uncontrollable collisions between the barge and the pier”. To protect the harbor, the barge was moved to Honolulu Harbor’s more protected waters.

Then there’s the $1,187,930 for a “suicide bomber detection system” and other security upgrades for the Harbors Division.

This project was conceived back in 2006 when the state projected expanded Superferry operations and hefty cruise ship traffic, prompting concerns about security.

A terrorist attack or violent attack on Hawaii’s busiest harbor or cruise ship lines could have a devastating economic impact on Hawaii’s tourism and could paralyze the shipping industry, imports and exports from the harbor.

The state successfully applied for a Port Security Grant from the Department of Homeland Security to install these suicide bomber detection systems at all state passenger terminals.

The bomb detection system includes a both a handheld detector and a “walk-up radiation free passive-millimeter wave imaging system”. According to the documents,

All of Sago’s products show the exact shape and location of a suspicious object–metallic and non metallic guns and knives, IEDs, sheet metal, liquid in containers, etc–taking the guessing out of current methods and removing the “pat down” that takes place at current security checkpoints.

The grant required the system to be purchased from Sago Systems.

And what a small world it is!

Back in the Spring of 2005, a press release announced the appointment of retired Admiral Tom Fargo, former Commander in Chief Pacific, as chairman of Sago Systems.

That’s the same Tom Fargo who became a managing director of J.F. Lehman & Company, the primary owner of the Superferry, and took over as Hawaii Superferry’s president and CEO in April 2008.

I haven’t put all the dates together in a timeline yet, but that’s a powerful bunch of coincidences.

Another part of the Homeland Security grant was $725,579 to procure a Hawaii Homeland Security Command Information System. According to the documentation, the grant was reduced to remove certain items, including unmanned aerial vehicles and infrared sensors. Apparently the Harbor Police wanted their own Predator drones, which could have been deployed against Superferry protesters.

Think about that on this overcast Saturday morning.

TobyJudy T. wrote yesterday to ask what happened to Toby, the only one of the eight cats of our household who didn’t appear in yesterday’s Feline Friday photo gallery. I just want reassure her, and anyone else who caught the omission, that Mr. Toby is just fine. He just missed the photo shoot. I caught up with him late yesterday afternoon out on the front deck, where he was cleaning up and waiting for dinner.

3 responses to “Saturday…Superferry saga continues, State DOT gets suicide bomber detection system, and a Toby update

  1. Interesting procurement request for moving the barge from Kahului to Honolulu. $125,000 seems like too much money to move a barge +/- 100 miles from Kah to Hon. Seems like one last plum award on this to HTBI.

  2. Those loan guarantee issues could include the still unresolved question of whether the maritime administration told Lingle that the loan was dependent on there being no EIS required. Lingle said yes they did say that, the MA said no we didn’t. And no news since then on who is telling the truth.

    She says they asked and she made the guarantee but apparently that wasn’t the truth as it turned out. So did they break their own rules since one ultimately was required?

    Now each one’s story would seem to benefit the other in any proceeding. I gotta see the spinning on all this if it comes up in the bankruptcy court.

    As they say, I ain’t sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

  3. Was thinking more on it. Maybe the $125,000 is well spent. HTBI can help DOT reengineer the barges and find a new buyer for them. Something’s better than nothing.

    Also, not to overlook it, but the $1,187,930 grant from the feds specifically for a Sago security system, and who their Chairman was implies pretty good federal connections. It seemed to help the state but more directly helped Sago with federal deficit tax dollars. Spendin’ money we don’t got. Not at the state nor at the federal level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.