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September 03. 2013 2:01PM

No one can agree on who's responsible for Portsmouth bridge damage


The M/V Harbour Feature is shown on April 2 when it allided with the Sarah Mildred Long bridge in Portsmouth. The ship's owner and the states of Maine and New Hampshire cannot agree on who's responsible for the accident. (JASON SCHREIBER/FILE PHOTO)

PORTSMOUTH — So far the states of Maine and New Hampshire and the owners of the tanker M/V Harbour Feature have been unable to settle on who is at fault for damage to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge earlier this year.

In an amended complaint filed Aug. 13, the two states again argued that the tanker's owner and operator are responsible for about $2.4 million in damage caused to the bridge when the oil tanker came loose from the state pier on Market Street April 1 and allided with the structure.

The states filed suit against the tanker's operator, TB Ship Management of Hamburg, Germany, on April 4 citing extensive physical damage to the bridge caused by negligence on the part of the tanker's crew to properly secure the mooring lines.

The company responded on May 14 arguing that it was negligence on the part of the pilot that led to the accident, not the crew, and that repairs done represent a "betterment" of the bridge that they should not have to pay for.

The company's amended response filed Aug. 26 lays out the same argument.

They say they are also entitled by way of "setoff" to deduct for any damage sustained by the ship, it's owner and operator, including the costs of temporary and permanent repairs to the ship and the costs associated with delay and loss of use of the vessel.

They ask that the complaint be dismissed, the $2.4 million special bond granted in exchange for the "arrest" of the Harbour Feature in Portsmouth Harbor be returned and they be awarded costs and attorney's fees.

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the case is scheduled to be heard by Judge Paul J. Barbadoro starting the week of Oct. 7, 2014.


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