July 16, 2013

Trial date scheduled on damage to Maine-N.H. bridge

At issue is who should pay the $2.4 million cost of repairs to the bridge that was hit by a tanker in April.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — A dispute over who should pay for the $2.4 million in damage done to a bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine has been scheduled for trial in federal court in October 2014.

click image to enlarge

Seen in this aerial photograph, tugboats hold the MV Harbour Feature in place against the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery on April 1, 2013, after it slipped off its moorings at the New Hampshire State Pier and crashed.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

The 473-foot oil tanker MV Harbour Feature hit the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge on April 1 after breaking away from a pier. The bridge connecting Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, was shut down several weeks for repairs.

In dispute is whether the fault lies with the tanker's owner or the states of Maine and New Hampshire, which own and/or manage the bridge and the nearby port.

The states are seeking reimbursement for costs associated with repairing the bridge, and damages for economic losses while the bridge was closed for repairs.

The Harbour Feature's owner, Sexhste Nordtank-Hamburg, says the tanker sustained damage.

The Portsmouth Herald reported that a plan announced by the court in New Hampshire on Monday notes that the states have until Dec. 16 to make a settlement demand. The tanker's owners have until Jan. 16 to make an offer.

The two states sued in April, saying the tanker's crew "negligently tended her lines, allowing the vessel to come free from her berth," before the ship drifted sideways and crashed broadside into the bridge.

The Harbour Feature's owner contends the ship was in good condition and its crew acted with "due care and good seamanship" when a tugboat captain boarded the vessel and took it through the bridge to the state pier.

The owner says the tugboat captain and agents of the state pier determined which way and how the tanker would dock, and the tugboat captain "drafted the mooring plan."

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