Hawaii Superferry: An ulterior motive?


Was the Hawaii Superferry project conceived of as a means of securing a military contract? Speculation in Hawaii among activists that the ferries might have eventually been used for interisland transport of the Army’s Stryker brigade and other military equipment fueled conflict between protestors and Superferry supporters.

In March 2005, John F. Lehman, a former Navy Secretary during the Reagan administration and the company’s principal investor, told Pacific Business News that there was a possibility the ferries would be used to move military cargo. In 2008, the former CEO and President of HSF, Inc., Thomas Fargo, said that was still a possibility, and the company’s lobbyists at Blank Rome LLP reported being paid $210,000, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, to lobby for inclusion in a Defense Department program that would pay to have improvements made to the Hawaii Superferry’s two high speed catamarans that would make them more militarily useful.

The increased lobbying activity came when Hawaii’s Supreme Court was considering a suit that ultimately shut down Hawaii Superferry on environmental grounds.

Calls to Lehman seeking comment were not returned.