HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After 14 years and $30 million, the Semisub One officially launched its service along Oahu’s coastline.
The owners said the 72-foot long, 149-passenger, high-tech cruise vessel is the first of its kind.
“This is the only vessel of its type in the world. And what’s special about it is it partially submerges," said Lee Collins, president of Semisub LLC. “The side windows are underwater. This gives you that beautiful side perspective of the reef.”
Semisub One will operate several daily tours between Waikiki, Ko Olina and Aloha Tower, catering to the high-end tourism market as well as to local residents.
The company said the ship is the first of several that it hopes to build and operate over the next several years.
“We hope to be operating them on all the coasts. Maybe Abu Dubai, down the Caribbean," said Collins.
But because the design and construction of the Semisub One is so unique, it took a long time to get permits approved by the Coast Guard and other federal agencies.
The company initially hoped to launch service two years ago but a Coast Guard inspection found problems.
“We found that there was some welding issues," said Collins.
The delays also caused investors to get jittery.
But after company owner Curtiss Jackson decided to rebuild the ship here, Collins said the company was able to satisfy the Coast Guard’s concerns, paving the way for today’s official launch.
“I don’t know very many people who would have stuck this through for ten, 12 years. The bureaucracy was significant and he never gave up," said Collins.