SOURCE: Harbor Homes, LLC

Harbor Homes, LLC

April 10, 2011 19:34 ET

Harbor Homes, LLC Responds to Reports of Sinking in Cuba of Barge Carrying Humanitarian Aid to Haiti

Lloyd's of London Denies Insurance Claim

THOMASVILLE, GA--(Marketwire - Apr 10, 2011) - It has been reported by the Associated Press that Harbor Homes, LLC suffered the loss of an oceangoing barge on December 1 of last year. Harbor Homes and its Haitian subsidiary PermaShelter S.A. acknowledge the loss of the vessel CIA204 and its approximately $2 million in cargo intended for humanitarian relief in Haiti.

According to company spokesperson Matt Williams, "It is our understanding that the barge that we chartered to convey transitional shelter materials and other equipment to Haiti encountered a problem with contaminated fuel in the Winward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. The crew of the vessel contacted our company, and we immediately began coordinating a response with the U.S. Coastguard, the U.S. Southern Command, and the Navy's 4th Fleet Battle Watch. The U.S. Coastguard responded by making visual contact with the vessel by helicopter and then tasked a U.S. Coastguard cutter with responding. The U.S. Coastguard contacted the government of Cuba to request permission to enter marginally into Cuban territorial waters to retrieve the vessel back into international waters so that it might be refueled and continue on its way to its destination in Haiti. The Cuban Government refused to permit the requested assistance, and for the next two days the vessel was permitted to remain adrift along the coast of Cuba until, at approximately 2:40 AM on December 1, 2010, a salvage vessel was dispatched by the Cuban government near Moa, Cuba to tow the tug and barge to port. It was reported by members of the Tug Muheet, the vessel towing the barge, that the salvage vessel tied onto the tug and started so quickly that the predictable response was the snapping of the line connecting the Tug Muheet and the trailing barge. The Cuban salvage company advised the crew that the barge would be tended by a Cuban military vessel. This did not happen. Instead, the Government of Cuba, which had been well-apprised of the vessel's cargo and the destination and humanitarian purpose of the voyage, simply permitted the barge to wash ashore, directly causing the loss of all cargo valued at approximately $2 million US."

Harbor Homes was under contract with a major NGO to build 1,000 transitional shelters in Haiti. The materials, supplies, and equipment required to build these homes are a total loss. Despite this setback, Harbor Homes, a major supplier of disaster housing to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, self-financed the construction of 200 homes on the island of La Gonave. Harbor Homes has made every reasonable effort to uphold its commitment to build these homes despite the cancellation of the original contract by USAID and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for failure to meet the project deadline as a result of the sinking of the vessel.

Lloyd's of London has denied the insurance claim on the humanitarian cargo based upon the age of the tugboat despite a lack of evidence of any kind that the vessel was unfit for the voyage. According to Matthew Batson, Vice President of Harbor Homes, "The vessel had just undergone extensive repairs and upgrades under the direction and supervision of the U.S. Coastguard in Jacksonville, Florida. In cooperation with the owner of the tug Muheet, Harbor Homes assisted in making numerous mechanical repairs to the vessel prior to its departure from Jacksonville, and the U.S. Coastguard declared the vessel seaworthy and permitted it to sail on to its destination in Haiti. We have in our possession signed statements from each crew member that the vessel was seaworthy. Lloyds of London has produced no evidence to the contrary."

It is the position of Harbor Homes, LLC that the denial of the insurance claim on the vessel is without basis, and that this denial most adversely affects the roughly five to eight thousand intended occupants of these homes along with the several hundred Haitians who would have been provided meaningful employment through the construction of these transitional shelters. Had it not been for the denial of assistance by the Cuban government, the barge would have been retrieved by the U.S. Coastguard, provided adequate clean fuel to continue its voyage to Haiti, and delivered the much needed humanitarian aid to the Haitian people.

Harbor Homes subsidiary PermaShelter S.A. is currently building homes in Haiti and has established a major manufacturing operation at Terminal Abraham in Carrefour where it possesses a current manufacturing capacity of 500 homes per week employing nearly 100 Haitian workers. Harbor Homes is establishing a trust account to facilitate the construction of additional homes. Any groups or individuals interested in helping to replace the homes that were lost at sea may send a check to "Houses for Haiti" c/o Thomasville National Bank, 301 North Broad Street, Thomasville, Georgia, 31792.

The Harbor Homes family of companies includes Harbor Homes, LLC, PermaShelter S.A., Intrepid Structures, and Outlast Emergency Products. PermaShelter S.A. is the exclusive distributor of the Concrete MD in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Matt Williams
    PermaShelter S.A., a Subsidiary of Harbor Homes, LLC
    Email Contact
    U.S. Phone: +229 234 2911
    Haiti Phone: +509 3930 2900
    More information can be found online at http://www.permashelter.com