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Falls of Clyde auction ends with no legitimate bid, state says

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    The state received no official bids for the historic Falls of Clyde ship berthed at Honolulu Harbor this morning. The auction is over and state officials are proceeding with the next steps, with the goal of removing the ship by hurricane season.

There were no qualified bids by the deadline of 11 a.m. today for the historic Falls of Clyde berthed at Honolulu Harbor.

State officials this morning gathered before the 140-year-old ship, the last surviving ship named after Scottish waterfalls, at Pier 7, to open the sealed bids. There was only one, but it was not a legitimate offer.

“The auction officially is over, with no successful and accepted bids,” said state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.

The only bid that came in writing turned out to be a joke — a typed letter mailed through the U.S. Postal Service offering 25 cents signed by someone purporting to be Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. It came with a quarter taped to the letter, but did not include the $1.5 million performance bond required by the state Harbors Division.

“We were optimistic we would get a successful bid,” said Sakahara. “That someone out there, either an individual or company, would come in and really want to take over the ship … That was our hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

The Harbors Division on Feb. 7 issued the notice of public auction for the sale of the Falls of Clyde, requiring the buyer to provide a $1.5 million performance bond and guarantee the removal of the ship from Honolulu Harbor within 60 days of purchase.

With the auction officially closed, Sakahara said the state would proceed with the next steps. The options include selling by negotiation and donation of the ship to a governmental agency. Both of these options would come with the stipulation that the ship be removed within 60 days.

The last option after all other avenues are exhausted would be to put out a request for bids for the ship’s removal, he said.

“Our goal is to remove it before the start of the next hurricane season,” he said. “So we’re going to be moving forward with the next step, and move as expeditiously as possible.”

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