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Cruise company sues Canadian boatbuilder

A Connecticut cruise company is suing Irving Shipbuilding for more than $40 million in restitution and damages over a vessel that it says does not meet necessary regulatory standards.

The action that Pearl Seas Cruises brought in U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleges breach of contract for the overnight passenger cruise ship, which was slated to be delivered about 30 months ago, the Chronicle Herald newspaper in Nova Scotia reports. Irving is based in Halifax.

"Pearl Seas was organized in 2006 for the purpose of owning and operating a small passenger vessel to be constructed by Irving at Halifax. Pearl Seas has no other vessels," the lawsuit states.

Although it has an office in Guilford, Conn., Pearl Seas is registered as a company in the Pacific Ocean nation of the Marshall Islands. The ship was supposed to comply with safety regulations set down by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, according to court documents.

"The U.S. Coast Guard and the Republic of the Marshall Islands have identified [Safety of Life at Sea] violations, including deficiencies in the vital structural fire protection throughout the entire vessel," the lawsuit states.

Pearl Seas wants a judge to cancel its contract with Irving and order the shipbuilder to repay the $30 million it has already laid out for the vessel. Pearl Seas also is asking for another $30 million in damages.

An arbitration panel of three maritime lawyers ruled earlier this month that the ship is deliverable, Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said Monday.

"For a number of reasons, Pearl Seas has no grounds to file such meritless claims in a court in Connecticut," Irving told the newspaper.

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