The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Matagorda after its conversion to 123 feet. March 2004. Photo by PA3 Jonathan McCool, USCG
The federal government today filed suit against Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC and Halter Bollinger Joint Venture LLC alleging material false statements were made to the U.S. Coast Guard in order to win contracts for a series of cutter conversions.
The feds claim that Bollinger “misrepresented” hull strength in a proposal to convert existing 110-Ft Patrol Boats (WPBs) into 123-Ft WPBs by extending the hulls 13 feet. As a result, the Coast Guard awarded a contract to convert eight of its cutters. When put into service however, the first converted cutter, the Matagorda, suffered catastrophic hull failure. An investigation later determined that the calculation of hull strength reported by Bollinger to the Coast Guard prior to the conversion was false, and efforts to repair the Matagorda and the other vessels were unsuccessful.
“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 cutters have since been taken out of service.