The insurer of Long Island's HMS Bounty replica, which foundered during superstorm Sandy, has sued the owner to recover the $5.1 million it paid out, claiming he concealed evidence that the ship was far from seaworthy.
Acadia Insurance Co. claims the tall ship's owner, Setauket businessman Robert Hansen, failed to disclose a host of critical problems, including rot in the hull, leak-prone compartments and incomplete and faulty repairs.
The Greenport-based ship also failed to comply with U.S. Coast Guard and international regulations, according to the federal suit.
Shortly before the wooden ship sank, Hansen put it up for sale "immediately" after being told his enlarged replica of the 1787 HMS Bounty required an extensive overhaul, the suit states.
Acadia said it would have denied Hansen coverage starting in 2008 had it known the true condition of the three-masted, square-rigged ship built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty."
Hansen, who bought the ship in 2001, did not return calls Friday. The suit was filed Nov. 6 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
Many of the allegations mirror previous official findings. In February, the National Transportation Safety Board determined the Bounty was not seaworthy and faulted the captain's "reckless decision to sail" during Sandy. One of 16 crew members perished, and the captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, was lost at sea when the Bounty sank Oct. 29, 2012, off Hatteras, North Carolina.
Acadia seeks to recoup the $4 million paid for the ship, $100,000 for loss of earnings and $1 million for legal expenses from a lawsuit over the death of the crew member.
Hansen and a company officer, Tracie Simonin, who was not sued, had long neglected costly repairs, the suit contends.
"To save money, Hansen and Simonin knowingly permitted Bounty to remain in an unseaworthy, leaking, non-watertight condition, placing Bounty at risk of total loss due to sinking and endangering the lives of those on board," the suit states.
Simonin could not be reached Friday for comment.
Hansen failed to reveal he had appealed the Coast Guard's refusal to certify the ship as a training vessel, and hid a 2010 survey that uncovered 19 deficiencies, according to the suit.
"Even in port, in calm water, so much water leaked into Bounty's hull, that the bilges had to be routinely pumped out at least twice a day, and when at sea, bilge pumping was required more often," the suit states. With Ellen Yan