Back in the late fall of 2011, a nor’easter struck Newport and sunk a barge that was was being rented by Abhe & Svoboda Inc. to paint and repair the Claiborne Newport Pell Bridge.

Almost 5 years later, the incident has become a maritime insurance dispute (St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Abhe & Svoboda Inc.) over information the company did not provide the marine insurer regarding renting of the barge.

The insurance company claims that the bridge repair company did not tell them of the rental, while the bridge repair company claims that the insurance company did not request them to complete an application for insurance and accepted an application from their previous insurer.

“A nor’easter that sank a barge being used by a bridge repair company has resulted in a maritime insurance dispute that the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to resolve, returning the case to Minneapolis federal court,” BusinessInsurance.com shared on the dispute and court case in “Sunken barge insurance dispute tests good-faith dealing legal principle“.

Recovery Of The Barge

Donjon Marine, Co., Inc. was contracted in early November 2011 to raise a 300-ton barge used as a platform for painting supplies and disposal equipment that sank in 100 feet of water after a violent Nor’Easter storm near Newport Pell Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island.  The barge also contained oil in three tanks with a reported 2,400 gallons of fuel at the time of the sinking.
Working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the barge owners, underwriters, and environmental groups, Donjon’s salvage crews and divers devised a salvage plan, worked to clear the barge of hazardous materials and oil, and with its 1,000-ton floating crane Chesapeake 1,000, lifted the barge with a number of slings.  The job was successfully completed in 33 days.
“This project required experience in professional heavy lift salvage, deep water diving, and environmental remediation, to name just a few,” said John A. Witte, Jr., Executive Vice President of Donjon.  “Donjon Marine brings all of these capabilities and over 40 years of cost-effective service in response to the needs of the marine community to each job it completes,” he continued.


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