Lawmakers to discuss financial bailout for inter-island shipping company

Lawmakers to discuss financial bailout for inter-island shipping company
Young Brothers (File image) (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A move to bail out Young Brothers could mean bringing in a new shipping provider.

On Wednesday, a State Senate Committee will consider revisions to House Bill 2475.

Among the proposed changes: Allowing the Public Utilities Commission to appoint a company to take over inter-island transport if Young Brothers cannot.

Right now, the PUC has an emergency investigation into the company’s finances.

Last month, the company asked the state for $25 million in federal stimulus funds to “sustain” operations through December.

Since the pandemic began, they reported a 30 percent drop in cargo volumes, leading to an “extremely dire” financial situation.

“This is a rare circumstance, but one that we need to be prepared given what we’ve been talking about,” Jay Griffin, chair of the PUC said. “We want to make sure that the goods continue to flow, that the lifeline of the islands is sustained ... We’re planning for the best, but we’ve got to be prepared if things don’t work out that way.”

The bill will be heard Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. and broadcast on Olelo TV.

This all comes as authorities continue their search for 12 of the 21 shipping containers that fell off a Young Brothers barge in waters off Hilo Monday.

The Coast Guard says only one of the containers has hazardous materials inside, mostly household cleaners.

Damages are estimated to exceed $500,000.

The Coast Guard has declared the incident a ‘major marine casualty.' The NTSB and Young Brothers are also investigating.

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