The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Navy:
(NORFOLK, Va.) — The Office of the Secretary of the Navy has approved an enhanced use lease of a high-speed transport vessel to Bay Ferries Ltd. today.
HST 2, owned by Military Sealift Command, is to be leased to Bay Ferries Ltd., a Canadian company, to operate ferry service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
The lease is for a period between June 2016 to October 2017 with two one-year options after the first two years. At the end of the lease HST 2 will return to the U.S.
The U.S. Navy found HST 2 to be a non-excess, but underused, property and found an opportunity to lease the vessel which will benefit the U.S. Navy. For example, Bay Ferries Ltd. will pay for all repairs necessary for HST 2 to obtain its U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection. Additionally, while the vessel is leased to a Canadian company, the U.S Navy requires that HST 2 remains U.S. flagged, crewed by U.S. citizens, maintains a U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection, and all work bringing HST 2 into class will be conducted in U.S. shipyards.
HST 2 is one of two high-speed transports that were designed and built by Austal USA as commercial passenger vessels for Hawaii Superferry and were named M/V Huakai and M/V Alakai. HST 2 (ex-USNS Puerto Rico, ex-M/V Alakai) was transferred to the U.S. Navy from the Maritime Administration in January 2012 and has remained under caretaker status in Philadelphia, Pa.
HST 1, owned by Military Sealift Command as USNS Guam and previously known as M/V Huakai, supported humanitarian relief operations in Haiti during Operation Unified Response in 2010. HST 1 is scheduled to enter a shipyard this year to accomplish mission-required modifications to bring the vessel in class and is expected to support the III Marine Expeditionary Force mission in the Western Pacific beginning in fiscal year 2017.
Editor's note: HST 2 will be renamed The Cat for service between Maine and Nova Scotia.