HK$20m lawsuit over blaze at shipyard

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am


An Ap Lei Chau shipyard operator is suing a developer for more than HK$20 million after a fire damaged its docks and a historic yacht.

In a High Court writ, Harvest Marine Services Company sued Cheerjoy Development, the developer of the Larvotto luxury residential project, for negligence which the shipyard operator said contributed to a blaze on March 12 last year.

The developer is clearing several shipyards on the Ap Lei Chau waterfront to create a promenade near the Larvotto. Harvest says Cheerjoy was negligent in allowing workers to carry out welding and iron-cutting at one such yard without putting in place suitable measures to prevent fires.

The fire spread to Harvest's yard and left the yacht Madame Maurene - known formerly as Lady Maurine in the decades in which it served colonial-era governors - charred and burnt. Such was the damage to some of the 'antique and cultural relics' among the yacht's fixtures and fittings that they were left 'devoid of any historical or cultural identity', the writ says.

The yacht was named after the wife of Sir Alexander Grantham, the governor from 1947 to 1957, and has hosted British royalty, including Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

Traditionally, it ferried arriving governors from the former airport at Kai Tak to Central. Businessman Peter Yu Wing-woon rescued the yacht in 2002, buying it for HK$210,000 and spending HK$2 million on repairs, as well as renaming it.

Harvest, which puts the cost of restoring the fire-damaged yacht at HK$13 million, said the blaze caused losses and damage to its shipyard of about HK$7 million.

Cheerjoy is a joint venture of Sun Hung Kai Properties, Kerry Properties and Paliburg Holdings. Kerry Properties is controlled by the Kuok Group, the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post.