The Hawaii Department of Transportation is standing firm on its decision to evict a historic ship from Honolulu Harbor.
This week officials served the group Friends of Falls of Clyde (FFOC) with another notice and a letter rejecting two proposed plans for the ship’s future at the harbor.
The state initially issued a 30-day notice in May, and in July revoked a permit that allowed the ship to moor at Pier 7, citing safety and security risks.
FFOC had requested that Falls of Clyde remain until the group could secure funding to get it into dry dock or find a new owner outside of Hawaii, and said the ship did not pose a safety hazard to the harbor.
But the DOT Harbors Division said those plans were unacceptable, because they did not address the vessel’s immediate removal.
In a statement, officials said “DOT Harbors Division must meet its duty to protect Hawaii’s largest port and ensure the State’s economy and commerce remain uninterrupted. As affirmed by the Vessel Survey Report dated November 2013 and submitted by the FFOC to the DOT Harbors Division, the vessel is in poor condition and as such, the vessel’s condition and location in the harbor pose an unacceptable risk to navigation in Honolulu Harbor and a safety and security risk to harbor users.”
In a rebuttal sent out Saturday morning, Friends of the Falls of Clyde board president Bruce McEwan said “Harbors Division has consistently maintained that the ship is a safety hazard, but they have never given any specific details as to why. In their latest justification, they have used selective misinterpretation of a comment in a report submitted by FFOC.
“I say selective misinterpretation because they have used the term ‘poor condition’ to mean a safety hazard. Poor condition just means that there are some areas that do need repair, but there is no imminent safety danger as the Harbors Division wants the public to believe.
“The reality is the ship is going to be 138 years old,” said McEwan on Friday. “It was neglected for over 20 years by Bishop Museum, so of course she’s in poor condition, but that’s taken out of context. I worked in the harbor for 29 years on the waterfront and I saw many vessels in and out of the harbor that I have been on and have seen, and I tell you from a layperson’s standpoint, many of those vessels in and out of the harbor would be considered in poor condition.”
McEwan says while interior steel tanks have rusted, the ship’s general hull configuration remains intact.