Bids are due July 20 on two star-crossed fast ferries – the Alakai and the Huakai, which once belonged to Hawaii Superferry and are now in the possession of the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Marad is auctioning off the two 350′, 44,000-hp aluminum catamarans that were built at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The foreclosed vessels, which are currently tied up in Norfolk, Va., can carry up to 836 passengers and 282 cars or 65 cars and 28 40’ trucks.
Successful bidders must submit a nonrefundable $500,000 deposit for each vessel. Prospective owners may not be affiliated with the former owner and may be either U.S. or foreign citizens.
Marad will only sell the vessels separately if there are contracts on each at once, and it will not provide financing. U.S. taxpayers are already on the hook for the ferries’ $140 million Marad Title XI loan guarantee tab.
Only the Alakai made it to Hawaii and went into service, where in its maiden voyage to Kauai, protesters blocked the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor. In 2008, the boat was put in drydock for repairs to its auxiliary rudders. While there, a tug moving the ferry lost power, damaging the ferry’s hull and requiring an extended drydock stay.
In 2009, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the legislation permitting the Alakai to service the islands without an environmental review was unconstitutional. Hawaii Superferry ceased operations, and the company declared bankruptcy a few months later.
For more information on the auction, see the Federal Register notice: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/06/20/2011-15147/offer-for-public-sale-of-two-high-speed-vessels.