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Close Friend Of Bush At Center Of Coast Guard Contract Fiasco

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"Close Friend Of Bush At Center Of Coast Guard Contract Fiasco"

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Donald “Boysie” Bollinger, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards, “has been a friend of George W. Bush for a quarter century.” CQ Today reported in 2004 that “Bollinger has known Bush since 1980″ and has twice served as Bush’s Louisiana campaign chair. In 2004, Bollinger became a Bush “Super Ranger” after “bringing in more than $300,000″ for the campaign.

Bollinger Shipyards is part of an emerging scandal over the costly Coast Guard fleet-building program. Four years ago, the Coast Guard — “in an astonishing abdication of responsibility” — handed off the $17 billion program to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman “to plan, supervise and deliver the new vessels and helicopters.” (The program is now “foundering” as the estimated cost of the program has ballooned to $24 billion. Continuing problems have “delayed the arrival of any new ships or aircraft.”)

Bollinger Shipyards is a business partner of the two military contracting giants, and Bollinger’s company is responsible for some of program’s worst mistakes:

Even before the refurbishing began in 2003, though, Coast Guard engineers expressed doubts that the boats could bear the extra weight the changes would impose. “You could have buckling of the structure of the ship,” Chris Cleary, of the Engineering Logistics Center at the Coast Guard, said he recalls pointing out. But Bollinger Shipyards, a business partner of Northrop and Lockheed, insisted the conversion would succeed. [...]

Bollinger, it turned out, had overestimated how much stress the modified boats could handle, a miscalculation it cannot fully explain. “The computer broke for some reason,” said T. R. Hamlin, a senior Bollinger manager. “Whether it was a power surge or something, who knows?” The cursory oversight by the Coast Guard meant the mistake was not caught in time.

“In Iraq, lax government oversight and incompetence or profiteering by contractors have disabled reconstruction efforts,” the New York Times wrote yesterday. “Now the same disease is undermining our coastal defenses.”

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