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January 19, 2007
HONOLULU -- The Hawaii Superferry should be in Hawaiian waters by May and operating by July 1.
The first of two vessels has been launched from the shipyard in Mobile, Ala., following two and a half years of construction.
The ferry was placed into the water on Thursday and will undergo interior touch up and sea trials over the next few months.
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It is nearly 350 feet in length. It can carry more than 860 passengers and more than 300 vehicles.
When it begins service in Hawaii the initial routes will be from Honolulu to Maui, Kauai and then the Big Island in 2009 when a second vessel is scheduled to arrive.
Fares begin at a little more than $40 for passengers. The cost for vehicles will be determined by size.
Superferry officials said they will be sensitive to Hawaii's pristine environment. They promised not to discharge wastewater, trash, or any other solid waste at sea.
Average speed is estimated at 30 knots.
The Superferry has implemented a whale avoidance plan.
"It deals with changing our routes during whale season, reducing speeds, having additional lookouts on board to observe the whales," Hawaii Superferry Chief Executive Officer John Garibaldi said.
The vessel has the potential to become an important piece of equipment in the event of a disaster. The ferry has a low draft and is able to get into neighbor islands quickly.
"We've met with several police departments on neighbor islands -- fire departments. We'll be meeting with civil defense to formalize procedures, but this asset is at the disposal of the people of the state of Hawaii," Garibaldi said.
Hawaii Superferry said it will hire 200 people initially. Applicants can find more information at HawaiiSuperferry.com.