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By Shea Crawford, JOUR 3000

Hawai‘i Pacific University students spoke about their excitement of the Superferry’s arrival which will provide students an opportunity to visit other islands at a cheaper rate. The Superferry homeport will be located on the island of O‘ahu while daily travel will be available to Maui.

Hawai‘i Superferry recently received financial support by a $140 million federal loan as well as a $71 million loan from ABN-Amro Bank which will allow the Superferry to begin services early in 2007, according to hawaiisuperferry.com. With the monetary investment secured, Hawai‘i Superferry can move forward with their two ferry productions taking place in Mobile, Alabama. The second Superferry will begin service in 2008 which will allow it to travel to Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i on alternating days.

The Hawaiian Islands have struggled to find an economical way for individuals to travel between the islands. “Hawai‘i is a big step closer to ending its long standing as the only archipelago in the world without ferry service between its major islands,” said Tim Dick, president and one of the founders of Hawai‘i Superferry.

Amber Vega, a senior at HPU who has lived in Kailua her entire life, is very excited to hear about the Superferry’s arrival. She believes that the Superferry will reduce the distance gap the Hawaiian Islands have suffered for many years. “I would travel on the Superferry every weekend if I could,” says Vega. “The Superferry would allow me to surf other islands and explore more breaks.”

Currently, local interisland round trip flights range in price from $180-$250, according to airline Web sites. The Superferry would allow one to travel round trip to another island with a vehicle for a price ranging between $105 and $130 depending on the season, according to hawaiisuperferry.com.
The ability to transport vehicles on the Superferry will allow travelers to take their own vehicle with them as they travel.

However, traveling interisland with one’s own vehicle raises concerns. Concerns include the ability to traffic drugs, and also there are many invasive species indigenous to specific Hawaiian Islands. The ability to control the drug trafficking as well as invasive species is yet to be determined but still many see this as an opportunity.

“ I would save so much money. Not only would I save money on the price of the Superferry ticket, but I wouldn’t have to rent a car,” says Mike Mellilo. Mellilo is a senior political science major at HPU and has lived in Hawai‘i for the past five years and had the opportunity to visit several of the islands. “I don’t have a car, but taking a trip to visit the other islands would only cost me around $80 and I could take my motorcycle with me. I can’t wait.”

Maui will be the only island visited by the Superferry until the second vessel is finished. Beginning in 2008, a second ship will provide services to Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i on alternating days, according to hawaiisuperferry.com.

Another concern is the Superferry’s possible affect on whales and other marine animals. Since 1975, there have been 22 reported whale/vessel collisions in Hawaiian waters. Many of these vessels were traveling under 18 knots and were less than 100 feet long. Studies show that it only takes a vessel 240 feet long traveling at 14 knots (16 mph) to permanently cripple a 45-ton whale, according to the Pacific Whale Foundation on www.pacificwhale.org.

The Hawai‘i Superferry will be 340 feet long, traveling at 45 mph and carrying 900 people and up to 280 vehicles, according to The Superferry’s Web site.

Attempts to speak with Hawai‘i Superferry representatives for this story were unsuccessful.

There are currently an estimated 5,000 whales that travel the Hawaiian waters. There are six times as many whales traveling Hawaiian waters than in 1975, when the first whale/vessel collisions began to be reported.

Whales travel the Hawaiian waters yearly to feed, breed, and raise their young. The calves are more susceptible to collision because they have to resurface more frequently to breathe.

Environmental groups are protesting the progress of the Superferry because of its possible threat to the migrating whales. Groups such as the Pacific Whale Foundation believe that by introducing the Superferry to Hawaiian waters, whale/vessel collisions will increase.

Fourth year HPU student James Fowler, who has lived on Maui for the majority of his life, disagrees.
“Hawai‘i is surrounded by water and ships are the only way for the islands to receive goods. There are vessels in the waters all the time and if the Superferry will allow me to see my family more frequently, then I am for it.”

Hawai'i Superferry

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