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Aug. 19, 2022

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Port of Kalama files claim against vessel for marina damage

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LONGVIEW — The Port of Kalama has filed a claim against the owners and operators of the container ship it believes is responsible for damaging the marina and boats moored there when it passed at an excessive speed early last week.

The port also has also tripled its damage estimate, to $3 million, and that’s just for port docks, wharves and related structures. It estimates another $2 million damage to private vessels, but boat owners would have to file their own court claim, seek to join the port’s action or file a claim directly with the vessel operator.

The port identified the SM Mumbai as the responsible ship based on video, transit timing, vessel tracking and pilot information. According to court documents, the vessel is owned and operated SM Line Corp.

On Thursday, the port filed a claim against SM Line in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon seeking to recover damages to the marina, said Liz Newman, marketing and communications manager.

The Portland-bound vessel passed by the marina at about 4 a.m. on April 13 and caused a swell and suction of the water that affected the marina, according to the port. The tracking system recorded the ship going more than 15 knots, or about 17.3 mph, Newman said.

PND Engineers continue to evaluate damage to marina structures, Newman said. It appears the worst damage was to the middle part of the marina, House D through G, but the overall damage assessment isn’t complete yet, she said.

The port initially estimated the wake caused more than $1 million in damage, but the complaint filed in court Thursday increased that to an estimated $3 million in repair and replacement costs.

“The excessive and extraordinary swell and suction from the SM MUMBAI caused extensive damage to the docks, walkways, slips, roofing and pilings of the Port Marina,” the port’s complaint says. “This damage includes, but is not limited to, broken concrete floats, broken piling hoops, broken utility lines, displaced and broken pilings, broken and displaced walkway connections and ramps, broken roof supports, and buckled roofing.”

The port estimates about $2 million in damage to the boats within the marina, according to the court documents. About 50 to 100 boats suffered hull damage due to wake caused them to slam against marina walkways, slip structures, dolphins and other vessels, according to court documents. Of those boats, approximately two dozen were completely torn from their moorings, suffering grounding damage and risk of sinking.

Marina vessel owners are encouraged to consult maritime lawyers on their own or they can contact the container ship’s lawyer, James McCurdy of Lindsay Hart LLP, Newman said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident by collecting evidence and contacting witnesses, said Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier, public affairs. It’s unknown how long the investigation will take, he said. The Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots is also investigating the incident.

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