Ship owners blame tugboat in NH-Maine bridge crashAP , Associated Press
Jun. 11, 2013 9:55 AM ET
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — The owners of the oil tanker that damaged a bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine say in court documents that any negligence should be directed toward the agency that hired the tugboat captain.
The owners say they were required by state law to allow the Pease Development Authority's tugboat captain to take charge of the vessel to "direct all of her movements" within Portsmouth Harbor. They say any negligence that caused the ship to break from the pier lies with the authority.
The Portsmouth Herald reports (http://bit.ly/14Shk9v) the documents were filed in federal court in New Hampshire. Maine and New Hampshire sued the owners for $2.4 million, saying the crew was negligent in allowing the ship to drift and crash into the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge on April 1. The bridge was closed several weeks for repairs.
The owners, TB Marine Shipmanagement GmbH & Co., say the ship was in good condition and its crew acted with "due care and good seamanship" when the tugboat captain boarded the tanker and took it through the bridge to the state pier.
The state of New Hampshire says that even if the owners can prove the tugboat captain was negligent, the Pease Development Authority is an agent of the state and is therefore immune from liability under state and federal laws.
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com