Maine, New Hampshire reach $1.3 million settlement with tanker that damaged bridge

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 3/27/2014

The owner of a German tanker that broke its mooring and collided with a bridge connecting Maine and New Hampshire has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by both states to recoup repair costs.

On April 1, 2013, the merchant vessel Harbour Feature, a 473-foot tanker, broke her mooring lines at the New Hampshire State Pier in Portsmouth and struck the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which spans the Piscataqua River between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth. The bridge is jointly owned by both states.

The states and the vessel have now settled those claims for $1.3 million, and the suit has been dismissed, according to a joint press release issued Wednesday.

The collision caused substantial damage to the bridge and the ship. Maine and New Hampshire subsequently filed suit against the Harbour Feature in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, seeking repayment of the costs incurred in repairing the bridge.

Ted Talbot, press secretary for the Maine Department of Transportation, said maritime law dictates that the states had to sue the vessel, rather than its owners.

“(The owners) didn’t agree with our assessment and named us as negligent,” Talbot said in a phone interview with Land Line. “Obviously that brought it to a head and to court proceedings.”

Talbot said the repairs to the bridge have already been completed, and the money from the settlement will be split between both states and used as reimbursement for the repairs.

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