USNS Puerto Rico (HST-2)

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For the locality on Kauaʻi, see Alakai Wilderness Area.
Superferry aerial.jpg
The Alakai docked in Nawiliwili Harbor
Career
Name: Alakai
Owner: Hawaii Superferry (2007-2009)
U.S. Maritime Administration (2009-present)
Operator: Hawaii Superferry (2007-2009)
U.S. Maritime Administration (2009-present)
Port of registry: Honolulu, Hawaii,  United States[1]
Builder: Austal USA
Cost: US$88M
Yard number: 615
Way number: 1
Laid down: June 3, 2004
Launched: January 18, 2007
Christened: April 14, 2007
Maiden voyage: August, 2007
In service: 2007
Status: In Service
General characteristics
Displacement: 1646 Tons
Length: 349 ft (106 m)
Beam: 78 ft (24 m)
Draft: 12 ft (3.7 m)
Decks: 4
Deck clearance: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Ramps: NO
Ice class: NO
Installed power: 4 x MTU-8000 diesel engines
Propulsion: 4 x Rolls-Royce KaMeWa 125MkII waterjets
Speed: 35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph)
Capacity: 866 passengers, 282 cars
Crew: 21

The USNS Puerto Rico (HST-2), (standing for High-Speed Transport), formerly named the Alakai is a vessel currently owned by the U.S. Maritime Administration. It was originally the Hawaii Superferry's first high-speed ferry. In the Hawaiian language, alakai means "sea path." It should not be confused with the similar word alakaʻi, which means "leader."
The design of the Spearhead-class Joint High Speed Vessel is 70 percent in common with the Hawaii Superferries, both built by Austal USA.


Vessel[edit]

Alakai is a 349-foot (106 m) long high-speed roll-on / roll-off (Ro/Ro) passenger and vehicle ferry formerly operated by Hawaii Superferry. It used to operate a daily service at a speed of 35 knots (65 km/h) between the islands of Oahu and Maui. Alakai has a capacity of 866 passengers and up to 282 subcompact cars. Alternately, its vehicle decks can be reconfigured in 5 minutes to carry up to 20 large trucks and 90 cars.[2]

Like its sister ship  Huakai, the vessel features environmentally friendly technologies including non-toxic bottom paint, zero wastewater discharge and clean diesel engines.[3]

Hawaii Superferry’s vessels are designed and built by Austal USA, a subsidiary of Austal, an Australian company that is the world's largest builder of fast ferries. Construction on the Alakai began in June 2004 in Mobile, Alabama. The ship was launched in January 2007, christened in April 2007 and sea trials went smoothly.

Starting Service[edit]

The Alakai during sea trials in 2007

The Alakai arrived in Honolulu on June 30, 2007 with a celebration,[4] after a smooth 17 day delivery voyage.[5] The ship's maiden voyage was on August 26, 2007 and the trip to Maui was smooth. The voyage to Kauai was rougher and the Alakai was met by about a dozen protestors on surfboards blockading the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor. The protestors were peacefully cleared by the Coast Guard.

2008 Dry Dock[edit]

On February 13, 2008 the Alakai went into dry dock to make repairs to its auxiliary rudders that were damaged in late January. The dry docking was extended due to hull damage caused when a tugboat moving the Alakai into dry dock lost power and collided heavily with the catamaran.[6] Alakai returned to service in early April 2008 shortly after Aloha Airlines ended service.[7] Before resuming service the ship went through sea trials and was re-certified by the Coast Guard.

2009 Shut Down[edit]

On March 17, 2009 after about 11 months in service, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the legislation permitting Alakai to operate without an environmental review was unconstitutional. Hawaii Superferry made one last round trip to allow an orderly return of passengers who are not on their home island. They canceled existing reservations and did not take new reservations. The Superferry company intended to look for other work for the Alakai; it had also left open the possibility of bringing the ferry back into service if and when Hawaii completed an environmental review, but the company decided to abandon the vessel ending all possibilities of returning to Hawaii.[8]

Status[edit]

  • In January 2010, the U.S. Maritime Administration announced that Huakai and Alakai would be used to assist with relief in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[9][10]
  • As of December 12, 2011, the Huakai and Alakai are being considered for purchase by the navy, under the Defense Authorization Act of 2012.[12]

Navy Acquisition and Name Change[edit]

On January 27, 2012, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration has transferred two high speed vessels, the Huakai and the Alakai, to the U.S. Navy. The Navy plans to use the vessels to transport troops and equipment to training areas from Okinawa and other locations. These vessels will help the Navy meet these unique operational requirements without the need to build new vessels. Powered by waterjet engines, the catamarans can each carry 288 cars and 866 passengers.[13]

In May 2012, The Navy has announced that both Alakai and Huakai have been renamed. The Alakai is now USNS Puerto Rico and the Huakai is now USNS Guam. Guam is being modified and will replace the chartered Westpac Express in Okinawa in March 2013. Puerto Rico will remain laid up until they work out what to use her for. [14]

On 19 August 2012, USNS Puerto Rico was towed from Norfolk to Philadelphia, presumably for modification.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]