The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration has announced the transfer of the ex-Hawaiian superferries to the U.S. Navy, finally recouping a fraction of the money that the U.S. government (and tax payers) paid out after Hawaii Superferries defaulted on loans that MARAD had guaranteed.
MARAD said in a statement that the two high speed vessels, the Huakai and the Alakai, were sold to the Navy for $35 million and will be used to transport troops and equipment to training areas from Okinawa, Japan and other locations. The waterjet-powered catamarans can each carry 288 cars and 866 passengers.
MARAD became the reluctant owner of the vessels after their original owner, Hawaii Superferries Inc., defaulted on a nearly $140 million loan that the Maritime Administration had guaranteed under the Title XI ship financing program. The U.S. Maritime Administration put the two vessels up for sale on an “as is, where is” basis in late June, 2011 and, in December, Congress gave the Navy the green light to spend the $35 million to acquire two superferries.
The vessels are currently docked at Lamberts Point in Norfolk, Va.