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January 19, 2010

MARAD to deploy former Hawaii Superferry cat to Haiti

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said yesterday that the Department's Maritime Administration (MARAD) is sending five ships to assist with relief efforts in Haiti.One of them is the former Hawaii Superferry Huakai. The others are the Gopher State, Petersburg, Cornhusker State and Cape May.

They are being prepared to sail to the Caribbean Ocean from different parts of the United States. All are owned or controlled by MARAD, and will be crewed by civilian U.S. merchant mariners.

Huakai is the second of the two Hawaii Superferry high speed cats built by Austal for the failed Hawaii ferry operation. Unlike its sister ship, it never entered service. Also unlike its sister ship, it is fitted with a bi-fold stern ramp that may prove particularly useful in Hawaii relief operations. The 373-foot Huakai can travel 30+ knots with available seating for in excess of 800 passengers and a cargo deck capacity of 25,000 square feet.

Hornblower Marine Services (HMS) will be operating the Huakai for MARAD and supplying crews.

"Sending these ships will help those on the front line of this effort save as many lives in Haiti as possible," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "These ships will add crucial capabilities by supporting operations to move large volumes of people and cargo."

"Once again the U.S. Merchant Marine is answering the call for assistance, as it has done since our Nation began," said Acting Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda. "These ships and skilled crews are ideally suited to assist in Haiti by providing unique capabilities. One cargo ship can carry as much as 400 fully loaded cargo planes."

Petersburg, Cornhusker State, Cape May and Gopher State are part of MARAD's Ready Reserve Force (RRF), which includes a total of forty-nine ships at ports around the country

MV Gopher State is a TACS crane ship based in Norfolk, VA. The crane ships were designed to provide the capability to load and unload containers and other cargo in ports where facilities are badly damaged or nonexistent. Their most notable features are the three independent twin-boom pedestal-mounted rotating hydraulic deck cranes. These crane ships can also carry containers, small barges, or landing craft, and recent exercises have proven their capability to discharge container ships far from any port, which enhances their military usefulness. RRF crane ships bear the nicknames of states in the United States: the Gopher State honors Minnesota.

MV Cornhusker State is also a TACS crane ship based in Norfolk, VA. The Cornhusker State honors Nebraska. It previously served in Haiti during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in 1994.

OPDS Petersburg is an Offshore Petroleum Discharge System tanker based in Alameda, CA. It has been specially modified to deliver petroleum products to military forces in areas where port facilities are damaged or non-existent. Within 48 hours of arrival on station, OPDS can be installed and commence pumping 1.2 million gallons per day from up to four miles off shore and at water depths down to 200 feet. If the ship is moored within two nautical miles of the shore, two different products may be pumped simultaneously through two separate conduits.

The SS Cape May is a Norfolk, VA-based sea barge clipper class (SEABEE) vessel, so that its characteristic cargo is barges, as well as sections of causeway, and other materials used by the Construction Battalions (Seabees) of the U.S. Navy. SEABEEs are militarily useful vessels capable of lifting outsized objects, such as 90-foot causeway sections or 110-foot Coast Guard patrol boats. Their most notable feature is the 2,000-ton submersible elevator at the stern.

SEABEE ships are unique because of their ability to carry a vast array of military cargo. SEABEE barges, causeway sections, and lighterage comprise the usual cargo; SEABEE barges can carry bulk and containerized cargo. Each barge has a capacity of 834 long tons.


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