ONLINE FIRST: State legislators reject draft proposal to aid cargo firm

  • The Young Brothers barge arrives in Hilo Bay from Oahu in this Tribune-Herald file photo.

HONOLULU — State legislators opted not to approve a proposal to give an ocean cargo company $30 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to avoid a shutdown of its service.

The state House Finance Committee did not advance the draft bill Tuesday that could have provided funding to Young Brothers LLC.

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The state’s only regulated interisland cargo company requested $25 million in federal coronavirus aid to remain in business. The 120-year-old Honolulu firm is considered crucial to local economies dependent on its tug-and-barge service to move goods to larger island markets.

The draft proposal offered last week authorized the state Department of Transportation to loan Young Brothers up to $20 million next year on the condition the company obtained at least $10 million this year from one or more counties.

The measure also would have transferred state authority for determining Young Brothers rates from the Public Utilities Commission to the Transportation Department through the end of next year.

Young Brothers President Jay Ana said he appreciated what he considered a thoughtful solution to assist the company.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that 12 of 21 shipping containers that fell from a Young Brothers barge north of Hilo last week have still not been located.

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No additional containers have been found since nine were spotted adrift in the sea. Eight containers were salvaged and one sank, said Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir.

The cause of the cargo loss remains under investigation, Muir said.

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