U.S. files suit against Bollinger in cutter conversion case

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MatagordamicroThe United States has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC and Halter Bollinger Joint Venture LLC, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

According a Justice Department press release, the suit alleges that Bollinger, which is headquartered in Lockport, La., made material false statements to the Coast Guard under the Deepwater Program.

The government’s complaint alleges that Bollinger proposed to convert existing 110-ft Patrol Boats (WPBs) into 123-ft WPBs by extending the hulls 13 feet and making additional improvements.

“As a result of Bollinger’s misrepresentations about the hull strength of the converted vessels,” says the Justice Department, “the Coast Guard awarded a contract to convert eight Coast Guard 110 foot cutters to 123 foot cutters.   The first converted cutter, the Matagorda, suffered hull failure when put into service.   An investigation by the Coast Guard and the prime contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems, concluded that the calculation of hull strength reported by Bollinger to the Coast Guard prior to the conversion was false.   Efforts to repair the Matagorda and the other converted vessels were unsuccessful.   The cutters are unseaworthy and have been taken out of service.”

The government’s suit seeks damages from Bollinger under the False Claims Act for the loss of the eight now unseaworthy vessels.   The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Justice Civil Division, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and the Coast Guard. 

August 17, 2011

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