Barge shipment delay results in no burgers, pet food

The Garden Island
By Sabrina Bodon

Burger King ran out of burgers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken ran out of mashed potatoes.

These were just some of the effects of a barge shipment delayed due to crew members contracting COVID-19, setting off a small chain reaction on the island.

“We are frustrated because we are serving our customers, and the customers were disappointed,” Burger King Manager Marionette Cataquian said Thursday. “That’s why they come to our restaurant, to buy the stuff they like.”

The fast-food establishment remained busy at lunchtime Thursday, with customers stopping to read that their favorite meals were not for sale. Signs, like Cataquian’s, went up at various spots around the island, notifying customers of the lack of goods.

“The burgers, the Whoppers, every day, that is the one thing people want,” Cataquian said. “We try our best to serve customers. We try to explain, but some customers don’t understand.”

Burger King typically orders extra burgers in each shipment, Cataquian said, and sometimes other restaurants will stop by to pick up those extras. This week, there were no extras.

The barge was initially scheduled to depart from Honolulu for Nawiliwili Thursday, July 22, but was delayed until Saturday, July 24, after five Young Brothers crew members set to sail last week for Kaua‘i tested positive for COVID-19, forcing crew members into quarantine.

Because of temporary adjustments in the sailing schedule to maintain U.S. Coast Guard tug crew-manning requirements, another barge that was scheduled to depart for Nawiliwili this past Monday was delayed.

Natural Pet Hawai‘i in Puhi was also affected, owner Jennifer Pimsaguan reported.

“We keep a list of people to call when their stuff comes in,” Pimsaguan said.

“It’s crazy, it’s weird that one facet of it shuts down and Kaua‘i is left high and dry,” Pimsaguan said. “The outer islands definitely need to figure out something. Barges are really important here. People depend on them every day.”

Some of Pimsaguan’s inventory comes straight to Kaua‘i, others have to stop on O‘ahu, and depending on various circumstances, like one shipment not making a transfer, her items may be delayed.

Natural Pet carries a variety of specialty animal foods, many for dogs or cats with allergies.

“It’s hard for me to run out because people depend on a certain style of food for their animal,” Pimsaguan said.

Young Brothers will sail a recovery on Saturday, July 31, as noted in the customer notice.

“Young Brothers will continue to safeguard the wellbeing of our team members, customers and the communities we serve from COVID-19,” Megan Rycraft, director of health, safety, quality and environment at Young Brothers, LLC, said in a statement last week. “The health and safety of our employees is our top priority as we continue to provide our 12 weekly sailings between the islands.”

The port will have special gate hours on Sunday, Aug. 1, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with an hour lunch closure starting at noon. These same extended hours will be in effect on Monday, Aug. 2, as well.

Following is a schedule of release of goods:

• Dry and refrigerated straight load containers: upon discharge;

• Refrigerated loose and palletized cargo: Sunday, Aug. 1 at 1 p.m.;

• Dry and mixed palletized cargo: Monday, Aug. 2;

• Automobiles and roll-on roll-off cargo: Monday, Aug. 2.

On the other hand, some weren’t affected at all.

Brandon Yoshimoto of McDonald’s Kaua‘i said it was “business as usual” at his location this past week, and he has not seen any ripple to the delayed shipment.

Yoshimoto said there have been longer delays due to treacherous surf that the barges couldn’t make it through.

“Everywhere will always have hiccups,” Yoshimoto said. “You cannot help that they’re (Young Brothers) taking precautions.”

This article was updated at 10:40 a.m., on Friday, July 30 to clarify when the recovery barge would sail.

Young Brothers Seeking Rate Increase

Young Brothers Seeking Rate Increase

The cost of living on the islands continues to rise as Young Brothers, Ltd. (YB) seeks to increase their shipping rates. During a visit to Molokai last week, YB’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Government Affairs Roy Catalani explained that dropping volumes of cargo are forcing the company to apply to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a rate increase of about 24 percent. Their last rate increase was in August 2009.

Along with lower cargo volume, a second shipping company, Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines, has entered the Hawaii market. They are “cherry-picking” service to larger harbors but not serving smaller ports like Molokai, according to Catalani. Pasha began service in February; their presence could also affect YB’s rising costs of operations.

“Young Brothers has lost about 30 percent of its over-all cargo volumes since 2008,” said Catalani. It came down, he said, to whether the company would increase its rates or decrease its services.

Matthew Humphrey, YB general manager, said Young Brothers has already decreased frequency of sailing to larger ports, while maintaining a minimum of twice-weekly trips to smaller harbors like Molokai.

Pasha set to ship vehicles interisland this month, taking reservations

KAHULUI – Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines’ M/V Jean Anne will begin shipping vehicles interisland Feb. 15.

The Jean Anne calls at Kahului every two weeks.

Since 2005, Pasha has shipped vehicles and heavy equipment between San Diego and Hawaii ports. Recently it obtained Public Utilities Commission authority to move vehicles between island ports.

It calls at Kahului, Hilo and Honolulu.

The PUC ruling has been controversial, with critics saying it gave Pasha an unfair advantage over interisland shipper Young Brothers Ltd. because the ruling allowed Pasha to skip over the islands of Molokai and Lanai because its ship is too big to enter those harbors.

Young Brothers is required by the PUC to make stops at those small, unprofitable ports.

Pasha Given Shipping Go-Ahead

Pasha Given Shipping Go-Ahead
Young Brothers warns of consequences.

The Hawaii state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave Pasha Hawaii Transportation Lines the all-clear on Dec. 2 to begin their interisland shipping – denying Young Brothers their appeal to keep Pasha out of the interisland cargo market.

The PUC stated that allowing Pasha to operate on an interim basis will “foster fair competition in the intrastate shipping industry,” according to the PUC’s interim order. They also stated that having more cargo carriers is positive for customers, so service could continue if “existing services are disrupted.”

However, Young Brothers maintains that Pasha is “cherry-picking” profitable routes and that the PUC is not maintaining its own regulatory standards.

Young Brothers is required to serve all ports in Hawaii, and uses its larger ports to subsidize smaller, less profitable routes such as Molokai and Lanai. Pasha currently sends cargo from the mainland to Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo, and requested to operate between Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai in March 2009.

Roy Catalani, Young Brothers vice president of strategic planning and government affairs, said they will be filing an appeal with the Intermediate Court of Appeals. In addition, he said they plan to file a “motion for stay” – asking the court to stop the effectiveness of the PUC decision until the court makes its decision.

Farmers fight Pasha decision

HONOLULU – Worried Hawaii farmers and ranchers told state lawmakers Thursday that breaking up Young Brothers Ltd.’s regulated interisland shipping monopoly could result in higher prices and less locally produced food.

They said the Public Utility Commission’s decision allowing Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines to carry cargo through the islands on a trial basis through 2013 could force rate increases and the elimination of unprofitable shipping routes.

“Loss of farmers and ranchers to increased transportation costs isn’t fear of the unknown,” said Warren Watanabe of the Maui County Farm Bureau. “It will happen.”

Young Brothers plans to appeal the regulatory decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, said Roy Catalani, the shipper’s vice president for strategic planning and government affairs. But the company may seek rate increases to sustain its business.

The Public Utilities Commission denied an initial appeal on the eve of Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

“This has the potential of killing agriculture,” said Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms on Oahu. “We have to have agriculture on all islands. They have to be able to get their product to this island in an affordable fashion.”

Pasha to ship among islands

After a year and a half of review, the Public Utilities Commission has granted Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines authority to carry cargo between island ports, provisionally through the end of 2013.

Pasha (pronounced PAY-sha, the name of the California family that owns the privately held business) sails the MV Jean Anne to Kahului every two weeks. The Jean Anne is the only purpose-built vehicle transporter in the West Coast-Hawaii service, with a home port in San Diego. It’s next stop at Maui will be next Wednesday.

In a contested case, Pasha argued that competition would lead to a better allocation of resources and better service and prices for interisland vehicle freight and other bulky items that the Jean Anne can handle, such as construction materials.

Young Brothers, which has what Pasha calls a monopoly of interisland shipping, objected that the proposal was not an apples-to-apples comparison, since the Jean Anne will call only at big ports: Honolulu, Kahului, Hilo, Nawiliwili, Barbers Point and Pearl Harbor.

Smaller harbors, like Kaumalapau on Lanai and Kaunakakai on Molokai, are served by Young Brothers barges.