POSTED: 1 November 2006 - 6:15pm HST

The Superferry Protest: "E.I.S. Drive-IN"

Twenty ton Stryker on ramp of Westpac Express (Superferry clone) in Okinawa

by Juan Wilson on 1 November 2006

We will meet at Nawiliwili Park in Lihue
at 1:30pm on Saturday, November 4th


The following is the text of a presentation I expect to make on Saturday during the Drive-In Caravan demonstration against the Hawaii Superferry. See next article below for more information on the demonstration. My words have developed out of an op-ed piece published recently by the Garden Island News.

It is expected that Randy Iwase, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Gary Hooser, Hawaii State Senator, will be keynote speakers.


Aloha to you - friends of Kauai,

I remember back in 1971, during the Vietnam War, a Cobra attack helicopter and a Huey troop carrier landed in the parking lot next to the Kauai Store (now the county office building). They were newly designed aircraft then, and a great draw as part of a military public relations effort. Young people, including me, got to climb all over them and even sit in the pilot’s seats.

Will we have a similar event in 2007? Will the Superferry bring a contingent of US Army Stryker vehicles to Kauai so they can drive up to Kukui Grove Mall as part of a military recruiting effort? Will our children be climbing over these weapons platforms as if they were playground equipment? I hope not and in a minute I’ll tell you why.

But first, there has been two positive recent court events that may lead to much needed Environmental Impact Statements concerning the Stryker Brigade on the Big Island and the Superferry docking at Kahalui Harbor. However, that alone is no assurance that either will prove effective in deterring these projects. I think that linking the two projects as a single military effort and examining their combined dangers is the key to stopping both.

If the Superferry gets going, and the US military gets to use it to carry the Stryker Brigade, there is a clear danger to the public and our environment posed by the spread radioactive uranium 238 contamination from island to island. How?

The Stryker is a eight wheeled, 20 ton assault platform that can carry the 105mm cannon and the 25mm Bushmaster machine gun. Both guns are designed to fire Depleted Uranium (DU) rounds. DU is radioactive uranium 238. It is very effective in a projectile and does two things.

It delivers a huge kinetic impact of white hot uranium to a target. This destroys the target. The uranium projectile is disintegrated into a windblown powder that gets into the soil and contaminates nearby equipment and personnel. It also conveniently gets rid of a wad of “low level” radioactive waste from an atomic power plant or nuclear weapons program. As you probably know, there is no safe place to put this stuff - and selling it to the the military to be fired somewhere else is a win-win situation for the Department of Energy. As such, DU munitions are an environmental impact that keeps on giving and giving.

Why worry about Depleted Uranium? Just ask any Gulf War One veteran. In 1991, the US allies fired almost a million depleted uranium rounds (or some 2700 tons). Today, about a third of those veterans are on disability. Many of the surviving vets claim they have been permanently disabled by widespread use of depleted uranium. Moreover, thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths have been attributed to DU poisoning. Birth defects here and in Iraq have also been reported.

After the first Gulf war Colonel Doug Rokke was the director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium clean-up effort in Iraq. Once in the field he found that an effective clean-up was unachievable and he was poisoned by DU himself. Rokke now agrees with the Untied Nations that the use of Depleted Uranium constitutes a 'war crime'.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority report said that some 500,000 people will die before the end of this century, due to radioactive debris left in the desert of Iraq. The contamination of the modern battlefield with radioactive uranium 238 is an intractable problem with a 4.5 billion year half-life.

The military denies that it has used DU munitions in Hawaii, but DU weapons debris has been discovered at Schofield Barracks and documented by the Associated Press. Will these weapons ever be fired on our islands in the future?

Even if they are not, we will have a significant problem with vehicles contaminated with uranium 238 when they return from Iraq (or other theaters of war). No one has demonstrated any clean-up effort that is sufficient to eliminate the risk to military personnel or the public by exposure in a DU contaminated environment.

Weapons platforms that use DU munitions include M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, the Apache Attack Helicopter, the Cobra Gunship Helicopter, and 155mm towed Howitzer canons. The Superferry is designed to carry all of them in its cargo bay.

The builder of the Hawaiian Superferry is Austal USA. They have constructed other Westpac Express ships that are virtually identical to the Hawaiian Superferry that conform to the same military specs.

Some are used to ferry US Marines, and their equipment, between Okinawa and other Japanese islands. These Westpac Superferries are painted up to look like civilian ships, making them more palatable to the Japanese, who have been sensitive about US occupation of Okinawa since WWII. Is any of the cargo on Okinawa’s Westpac Express ever contaminated with DU? Will the Hawaiian Superferry ever be?

Keep in mind that the board of the Superferry corporation is chaired by John Lehman (Reagan Secretary of the Navy 1981-87), a veteran of the neo-con Heritage Foundation and Project for the New American Century. He has been joined on the board by several associates from his investment consulting firm, Lehman Inc. Interestingly, one board member, John Shirley, has been a consultant to Lehman and has 34 years of experience in senior positions at the Navy Division of Naval Nuclear Reactors.

Pacific Business News reported on March 26, 2005, that with Lehman’s expertise, the Superferry plans to operate Westpac Express service, essentially to carry military equipment and ferry vehicles from Oahu to the Big Island on a daily basis. Lehman told PBN that “This logistical plan will make it easier for soldiers to train when the Stryker Brigade comes to Hawaii. The brigade will be stationed on Oahu and conduct training exercises on the Big Island.”

After battle simulations on the Big Island, will military cargo and vehicles be inspected for traces of radioactivity before they are loaded onto the Superferry? Will the Superferry itself be inspected for radioactivity after carrying military shipments? Where will any required clean-ups be done? Dockside?

It seems prudent to expect the possibility of the spread of uranium 238 contamination of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island by battlefield equipment transported on the Superferry for the Stryker Brigade.

In addition, we need to know if a Superferry, operated by the Navy, under its protocol for Westpac Express (and not civilian operating procedures), will be subject to US and international marine law regarding avoiding ocean mammals.

From what we now know of the Navy’s RIMPAC war games that took place off Kauai in 2004 and 2006, it is unlikely that Navy plans on complying with such regulations. In fact the Navy is now seeking to use the more dangerous Low Frequency Active Sonar in Hawaiian waters. This is particularly deadly to ocean mammals. Will the Superferry be equipped with LFA sonar for Navy use?

The cynical view is that the Superferry can become part of the Navy’s Westpac Express fleet on the cheap... at least cheap to the Pentagon. The people of Hawaii will be footing the bill for the harbor improvements. The investors (friends of Lehman Inc.) have federal and state guarantees on their money. Even if the civilian operation goes belly-up, the Navy can still lease the ships for a song and not have to deal with Matson or Young Brothers anymore.

We need a Superferry EIS that includes Navy Westpac Express operations in order to assure the people of Hawaii that the Superferry will not be a vector contaminating our islands with radioactive uranium and destroying the lives of sea mammals with lax Navy operation protocols. Thank you for your time and attention.




POSTED: 26 October 2006 - 6:00pm HST

Superferry Demonstration Planned for November 4th

Stryker loading onto Okinawa "Superferry" called WestPac Express

Drive-In Caravan Planning

A demonstration against the Superferry is being organized on Kauai. It is designed to educate the public on the issue of the effect the Superferry will have on our island.

We are hoping that Randy Iwase, Democratic candidate for Governor may join the effort.

Here's the plan, suggestions are welcome.  Please forward to your e-mail address lists and phone those who don't have e-mail.
On Saturday November 4th, The Drive-In Caravan will start, one from the north shore and one from the westside.
We will meet at Nawiliwili Park in Lihue

at 1:30pm on Saturday, November 4th

Each group needs to bring information tables if you wish to have the one.  A schedule will be handed out when you get there.  If you wish to organize a skit or whatever creative idea you might have, please coordinate with Kalasara (see contact info below).
So far,  Several short video's will be shown
A Blue Grass Band
A helicopter is ordered to photograph the event
There will radio spots and print advertising
The Caravan
 If you plan to participate you need to call
Kalasara Del Viscovo (808) 639-3289, for your car number. She is keeping track of the number of cars and coordinating site events. 

Diana LaBedz (808) 337-9977,, will be organizing the caravan from the westside.

Jason Donovan (808) 652-3632,, will be organizing the caravan from the north shore,

Please bring lots of banners and signs!
We need a generator and sound system, anybody got one?
Supporting organizations:
People for the Preservation of Kauai
The Surfrider Foundation
The Sierra Club
Save Our Seas
The Green Party of Hawaii
GMO-Free Kaua'i



POSTED: 22 October 2006 - 12:00pm HST

Superferry Meeting in Lihue

Superferry illustration by Dorrie Winkler

by Juan Wilson on 13 October 2006

The Kauai Surfriders Foundation chapter, in cooperation with the organization is hosting a meeting to discuss resistance to the Hawaii Superferry service scheduled to begin in July of 2007. Spokespersons include Dr. West Marin.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 24th at 7:00pm

The Lihue Neighborhood Center

Sheri at (808) 652-4648 or James at (808) 639-6958

see also:
Island Breath: Superferry Reference
Island Breath: Superferry & the Court
Island Breath: Superferry & Military
Island Breath: Superferry History
Island Breath: Superferry Meetings
Island Breath: Superferry Redux
Island Breath: Superferry Problems
Island Breath: Stop the Superferry


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