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A piece of Hawaiʻi maritime history is still looking for a new home

work_crew_in_water_2 FALLS OF CLYDE
Ryan Finnerty
Workers at Falls of Clyde in 2019.

A piece of Hawaiʻi maritime history moored in Honolulu Harbor has been physically deteriorating for years. Transportation officials want the ship removed before it could impact port operations.

The National Historic Landmark vessel Falls of Clyde is the last surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship and the last sailing oil tanker left afloat. Built in 1878, it has been docked at Pier 7 for free since 2008. The state impounded it in 2016.

Over the years, nonprofits have tried to raise money to transport it back to Scotland where it was built. The ship has survived previous plans to sink it in the ocean.

The Harbors Division of the state Department of Transportation is concerned the ship could break free in a severe storm or hurricane, potentially blocking Honolulu Harbor.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

"We are still looking to remove the vessel. And in that way we make sure that really the primary port, the largest harbor in the state of Hawaiʻi — we need that to remain clear and navigable and obviously Falls of Clyde is a concern that we continue to have," said DOT spokesperson Jai Cunningham.

The department recently announced it canceled a conditional award given to Save Falls of Clyde International, a group that sought to return the vessel to Glasgow, Scotland.

"There were several different conditions for compliance that were set forth in the request for proposal, and that included securing the performance bond. The conditions just were not met after five months," Cunningham told The Conversation. "The important part moving forward is Harbors Division really wants to continue to try and pursue viable options for removing this vessel."

Falls of Clyde International sent HPR a written statement, saying the state had changed the terms of an agreement to move the ship.

Catherine Cruz

Spokesperson David O’Neil says that the 50% performance bond was problematic. The state had initially issued a request for proposal for 10% but then canceled it.

The group acknowledged that it could not get that level of bonding, saying a London broker called the bond “excessive and simply unachievable.”

O'Neil called the decision to rescind the award crazy, saying it could agree on a 10% bond and minimize risk to the state. He said the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency reviewed its plan.

O'Neill also said Matson Shipping and Historic Hawaiʻi called for flexibility but DOT decided to go ahead and cancel the award.

“We are deeply disappointed at these events however we remain ready to discuss and come to Hawaiʻi immediately to find a solution if DOT decide they are willing to negotiate terms with us in order to remove FOC from Pier 7," Falls of Clyde International said.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 4, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Sophia McCullough is a digital news producer. Contact her at news@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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