Babcock hits back at Sikorsky in £53m legal battle over North Sea helicopters

UK operator Babcock has hit back at manufacturer Sikorsky amid legal claims it reneged on a £53million deal for two North Sea helicopters.

In May, Sikorsky opened a lawsuit against Babcock Mission Critical Services (BMCS) claiming it refused to take on two S-92 helicopters it ordered.

However, Babcock has made a counterclaim saying Sikorsky “ploughed ahead” with manufacturing the aircraft despite being told there was a “total lack of requirement” due to the oil downturn.

BMCS alleges that Sikorsky should have terminated the agreement to mitigate damages, “but knowingly failed to do so”.

This was because Sikorsky knew termination expenses would be less than the $3million (£2.5m) pre-delivery payments Babcock had already made to Sikorsky.

BMCS is seeking a repayment of the difference between those pre-delivery costs and Sikorsky’s termination expenses, which it believes are “minimal”.

Babcock – then Bond – first ordered 16 aircraft from Sikorsky in 2011, however in November 2017 it “repeatedly notified” the manufacturer that the effects of the oil downturn meant the final two were no longer needed.

At this point BMCS said the helicopters were either “not in production – or else not far along in production”.

However, Sikorsky claimed it “has been injured and has suffered and will continue to suffer damages” as a result of Babcock’s attempt to cancel the deal.

The manufacturer claimed Babcock “encouraged” Sikorsky to make amendments to the deal, including changes to payment and delivery schedules, with the “promise” that Sikorsky would get payment if they agreed.

BMCS has denied the allegations.

Sikorsky launched its original lawsuit, made in the US state of Connecticut where it is headquartered, seeking the $58.1m (£48.1m) combined cost of the helicopters plus another $5.8m (£4.8m) for completion services.

Babcock’s counterclaim included the argument that Sikorsky’s actions showed that it knew the extra helicopters weren’t needed, such as agreeing to keep one helicopter in storage for BMCS at a cost in December 2017.

BMCS operates the brunt of its oil and gas operations from a base in Aberdeen, along with sites in Sumburgh and Blackpool.

Neither party offered any further comment amid the ongoing legal case.

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Craigmill, Pitcaple, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, AB51 5HP
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