Remember FastShip? The maritime industry has largely forgotten the failed plan to build four small, expensive ships that would have crossed the Atlantic at speeds fast enough for water-skiing. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., apparently hasn’t.
For about a decade beginning in the mid-1990s, FastShip received a lot of attention for its ambitious – some said unrealistic – plan to build and operate four 1,432-TEU, $235 million ships that promoters said would skim over 40-knot seas at 40-knot speeds and cross the North Atlantic in less than four days.
Despite numerous financing efforts, FastShip never got off the ground. Still alive, however, is $35 million that Congress designated back in 2004 to help finance construction of the ships at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Specter has inserted a provision in the Senate defense appropriation bill to "reprogram" the still-unspent $35 million into a grant to Aker to help keep the struggling shipyard afloat. The shift still must be approved by a House-Senate conference committee.
Shipyard expert Tim Colton’s feisty blog takes a dim view of the deal and the yard’s future prospects.