Opposing Sides Unite for Superferry Trip to Pick Up Stranded Passengers, Vehicles

Sally Brice-O'hara
Sally Brice-O'hara
Jeff Mikulina
Jeff Mikulina

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Saturday morning, the Hawaii Superferry will head to Maui in these Hawaiian waters. Its sole purpose is to take stranded passengers and vehicles back to their home ports. It's a move authorized by Maui circuit court judge Joseph Cardoza, who is overseeing the case, and has the blessing of environmental groups.

A rare sight in the drawn out Superferry legal battle: the Sierra Club and the coast guard presenting a united front. They met with the media this afternoon to talk about Saturday's voyage to Maui.

"This is a court-sanctioned trip and I want to assure the public that the coast guard has worked closely with other maritime stakeholders in the port," said Sally Brice-O'hara, an admiral with the U.S. Coast Guard.

"While the issue of the Superferry is being resolved in the courts and we respect that process, Saturday's trip is something we asked for and it's something that's necessary to pick up those that were stranded to deliver the cars back," said Jeff Mikulina, Hawaii Sierra Club's director.

This is a one-time only trip, and does not violate the Maui temporary restraining order in place until Monday afternoon. The coast guard will enforce a 100-yard security zone around the Superferry in transit and in port.

"All vessels, swimmers, kayakers need to remain outside that one hundred yard security zone for their own safety as well as the security of this large vessel maneuvering in the harbor," said Brice-O'hara.

Only one group has filed for a protest permit, and the Sierra Club hopes there's no disruption tomorrow.

"That's why we're standing with the state and with the coast guard, to just make it clear that this trip on Saturday is endorsed by the court and is something we think is necessary, and now's not the time really," said Mikulina.

The Superferry's ultimate fate on Maui will be decided next week, when each side will go back to their respective corners.

About 60 cars from Oahu, and 40 cars from Maui and their owners will make the trip back to their home ports Saturday.