December 3, 2008 / 12:01 AM / 9 years ago

Police eye ships for 2010 security housing

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian police are again looking to use cruise ships to house security officers during the 2010 Olympics, even though their first attempt at such a plan fell apart amid a cost dispute.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police need to find housing for about 5,300 people during the Vancouver Games, and are looking for cruise ships to provide the extra accommodation, according to a government procurement request posted on Tuesday.

The request does not estimate how much the police expect to pay for the ships, but a lawsuit filed in connection with the first failed attempt put that proposed contract with a U.S. firm at just over C$55 million ($44 million).

Housing for support staff and media has been a long-running worry for the Games in Vancouver and the nearby resort community of Whistler, where many ski events will be held.

Using ships docked at in Vancouver would resolve a variety of issues, including reducing officer fatigue, according to the RCMP, which noted when it first presented the idea in April that cruise ships had been used at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

The RCMP had struck a deal for ships with Cruise Connections Charter Management, but that agreement fell apart last month, prompting the company to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The suit claims the RCMP backed out of an agreement to pay about US$7 million in corporate and personal income taxes for employees of the cruise line while the ships were docked in Canada.

The RCMP suddenly removed the people who had signed the contract on its behalf, said it did not have a duty to pay the taxes and demanded that Cruise Connections put up a 90 percent letter of credit, according to the suit.

Cruise Connections alleges the RCMP hopes to take advantage of the world economic slowdown to reopen the bidding process and receive a less costly contract offer with a new bidder.

A spokesman for the RCMP Olympic security unit was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

($1=$1.25 Canadian)

Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson

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