US Coast Guard, National Pollution Funds Center grants ATHOS I entitlement to limitation of liability and pays USD 77,181,859.54 for OPA 2704 damages
On November 26, 2004, between 2100 and 2115 hours, the T/V ATHOS I struck a submerged anchor within Federal Anchorage #9 on the Delaware River (also known as the "Mantua Creek Anchorage"). The anchor punctured the vessel's hull rupturing the #7 port ballast tank and the #7 center cargo tank, which caused an estimated 263,371 gallons of "Bachaquero crude oil" to discharge into the Delaware River, a navigable waterway of the United States. The Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Philadelphia, responded to the incident. The RP participated in the incident response as part of the Unified Command (UC), under the direction of the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC), USCG Capt. Sarubbi, COTP, MSO Philadelphia. At all relevant times, that the RP provided total cooperation and assistance as requested by the FOSC. Ultimately, it was concluded that an abandoned nineton anchor left in the Federal Anchorage No. 9 was the cause of the puncture in the ATHOS I's hull.
On 22 May 2005 the RP, the ATHOS I in rem and Frescati Shipping Company Limited, Tsakos Shipping & Trading and The United Kingdom Steam Ship Assurance Association (Bermuda) Limited (hereinafter "UKP&I Club"), (collectively hereinafter referred to as the "Claimants"), through their legal representative, George M. Chalos, sent the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) a claim for reimbursement of $124,226,518.59 in removal costs incurred by the RP in excess of the statutory the vessel's statutory limit of liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2704. We, on behalf of the Claimants, provided the NPFC over 124 binders of invoices containing some 53,437 pages to document the $125M in removal costs claimed. The NPFC claims manager reviewed each and every submitted proof of payment, invoice, as well as every "daily" sheet submitted to substantiate the invoices. The review of the actual costs, invoices and dailies focused on: (1) whether the actions taken were compensable "removal actions" under OPA and the NPFC claims regulations at 33 CFR Part 136 (e.g., actions to prevent, minimize or mitigate the effects of the incident); (2) whether the costs were incurred as a result of these actions; (3) whether the actions taken were determined by the FOSC to be consistent with the NCP or directed by the FOSC, and (4) whether the costs were adequately documented. The NPFC claims manager reviewed the payment records submitted by the Claimants against the claimed costs for each contractor/subcontractor.
A favorable determination was made by NPFC on whether the RP was entitled to a limit on its liability under 33 U.S.C. 2704; determined that the RP was entitled to an OPA limit of liability of $45,474,000.00, applying the statutory formula; and reimbursed USD 77,181,859.54, which comprised virtually all response and removal costs incurred by Claimants in excess of the statutorily prescribed OPA limitation amount.