The Department of Justice has filed suit against Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Lockport, La., over the company’s lengthening of eight Coast Guard cutters. The lawsuit claims Bollinger “made material false statements to the Coast Guard under the Deepwater Program.”
Beginning in the early 2000s, Bollinger lengthened eight of the Coast Guard’s 110′ patrol boats to 123′. In its suit, the government said the boats did not have the structural integrity that Bollinger had promised, claiming that, after paying out $78 million, the boats were not seaworthy.
“Companies which make false statements to win Coast Guard contracts do a disservice to the men and women securing our borders,” Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, said in a prepared statement. “We will take action against those who undermine the integrity of the public contracting process by providing substandard equipment to our armed services personnel.”
According to a 2004 internal email cited in the lawsuit, Bollinger vice president T.R. Hamblin told president and CEO Boysie Bollinger, that “we did lead the CG into a false sense of security by telling them early on that the Section Modulus for a 123 would be 5,230 inches cubed as opposed to the real number, just about 2,600.”
Bollinger noted that the work was completed in 2006, and it has cooperated with the Coast Guard throughout the process. “Throughout this process, Bollinger has been open and cooperative with the government, and we remain committed to providing the government all necessary information and assistance to bring this matter to a close,” the yard said in a prepared statement. “Bollinger has tried to find a way to resolve this matter short of litigation, but we are fully prepared to defend our good name aggressively in a court of law.”
Bollinger said they have built a good reputation over the years for producing a quality product. “Three generations of the Bollinger family have earned a spotless record for honest and fair dealing with every customer, including the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, our largest client,” the shipyard said.
Bollinger not only has built every patrol boat the Coast Guard has purchased since 1984 — at least 122 according to Bollinger — but the company in April launched the 154′ Fast Response Cutter Bernard C. Webber, the first in the new Sentinel class. Bollinger is currently contracted to build eight FRCs.