U.S. Files Lawsuit Against Shipyards for Material False Statements Made to the Coast Guard

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Government Asserts Louisiana Company Misrepresented Hull Strength of Converted Vessels

WASHINGTON - The 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 Justice Department announced.   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, 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.

“Companies which make false statements to win Coast Guard contracts do a disservice to the men and women securing our borders,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We will take action against those who undermine the integrity of the public contracting process by providing substandard equipment to our armed services personnel.”

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. 



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