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Vessels of Opportunity Lawsuits
If you participated in the Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program to help clean up the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you did so with the understanding that you would be compensated for your services. Unfortunately, many boat owners have been stuck in limbo waiting to see if BP will actually pay them.
The Mobile, Alabama maritime attorneys at Long & Waite are currently representing boat owners who participated in the VOO program, but have not been paid for all monies owed to them by BP.
Master Vessel Charter Agreement Problems
The contract entered into by the boat owners and BP was called the “Master Vessel Charter Agreement”. This contract was designed to get vessel owners to lease their boats and services to BP. The Vessels of Opportunity program, started at the end of April 2010, ten days after the oil spill. By May 2, there were 500 vessels and over 1000 people involved in the cleanup effort. By July 7, the number of vessels involved increased to nearly 3000.
After going through training, and being accepted into Vessels of Opportunity, participants could make $1200 to $3000 a day. This was done on the condition that these vessel owners essentially leased their boats to BP for the duration of the job. This was cleanup of oil, rescuing wildlife, and ferreting supplies around where they were needed most.
The Master Vessel Charter Agreement also stipulated that the vessels were:
- Available to BP 24 hours a day
- Were not to be used for any purpose other than in the services directed by BP during the term of the charter
- Subject to termination of the contract through an official notice called an "Off-Hire Dispatch Notification"
While many boat captains and their crew put other aspects of their lives and jobs on hold while in the service of BP, many found themselves sitting idly by without doing anything prior to getting their termination notice. In many instances, BP failed to even provide a termination notice. BP has now refused to pay boat owners for the time they were placed on standby and before being provided with a termination notice, even though these owners were unable to use their vessel for anything else. The lost income is substantial for many of these people.
BP has hardly suffered financially as a result of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico. Although they have agreed to pay out billions in various claims, their cash reserves have actually increased since the spill. It is unconscionable that a multi-billion global energy company would refuse to pay the very people who agreed to help BP during it’s time of need.
It is clear that BP owes money to those boat owners that were part of the Vessels of Opportunity. However, while these people must continue to pay bills and mortgages, BP has continued to refuse to adequately compensate the participants in the Vessels of Opportunity Program.
If you have not been paid for all of your time as a participant in the VOO, please contact the experienced Mobile, Alabama Vessels of Opportunity lawyers at Long & Waite, P.C. today.