William F. Dougherty


William F. Dougherty joined Burke & Parsons in 1980, immediately after law school and the completion of four years active service in the Navy.

With his experience as a seagoing engineer and deck officer, Bill has concentrated on maritime casualty cases including matters arising out of vessel collisions, groundings, allisions, marine insurance, marine salvage, fuel contamination and engine breakdowns. He has also developed a practice in the areas of charter party and ship management contract formation, dispute resolution (including litigation, mediation and arbitration) and maritime environmental law.

Bill has represented and counseled vessel owners, operators, underwriters and charterers in cases involving oil spills response, natural resource damage assessments and the assertion of claims against the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the investigation and analysis of marine casualties, marine insurance disputes, claims relating to cargo loss or damage, administrative and criminal investigations arising out of violations of MARPOL and U.S. environmental laws and regulations and in the performance of shipboard and company environmental audits.


  • College of the Holy Cross, A.B. 1973
  • St. John’s University School of Law, J.D. 1980

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Bureau of Shipping
  • The Association of Average Adjusters of the United States
  • The Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Connecticut Maritime Association
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States

Bar and Court Admissions

  • New York, 1981
  • U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, 1981
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1996
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1997

Practice Areas

  • Marine Casualties
  • Charter party drafting and interpreting
  • Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation
  • Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Contracts and Litigation
  • Ship Financing and related transactional work
  • Cargo Claims
  • Marine Environmental Law
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy
  • Insurance
  • Commercial and Regulatory Laws
  • Vessel arrests and attachments


  • Acted for vessel owner in a natural resource damage assessment and in the preparation, assertion and successful recovery of a natural resource damage claim against the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund following a major oil spill in Portland, Maine
  • Represented vessel owner and crew in a case arising out of the salvage of the external fuel cell for NASA’s space shuttle, which resulted in the largest salvage award in U.S. history
  • Represented the owner of a container vessel in an action against the United States to recover for significant bottom damage sustained when the vessel struck an unmarked area of submerged dredging spoil in the Bergen Point area of the Kill Van Kull in New York Harbor
  • Investigated a series of apparent MARPOL violations discovered onboard a major shipowner’s tank vessel and advised the vessel’s managers in the successful preparation and submission of a voluntary disclosure under the U.S. Coast Guard’s Voluntary Disclosure Program
  • Acted for a major tanker owner during a three-year U.S. Department of Justice investigation and prosecution of alleged MARPOL violations on several vessels in its fleet
  • Acted for the bareboat charterer / operator of a U.S. flag containership in arbitration proceedings arising out of the vessel’s grounding in South Africa
  • Represented a U.S. flag shipowner in the drafting and negotiation of a long-term shuttle tanker time charter with a major oil company
  • Represented the owner of an Italian flag Ro-Ro vessel in the investigation of a grounding in New York Harbor and in the resolution of various U.S. Customs issues related to the repair of the vessel’s rudder damage in New York
  • Acted for the owner and manager of a Singapore flag gas carrier in the investigation of alleged MARPOL violations that were said to have occurred on board the vessel and in the successful defense against a U.S. Department of Justice investigation arising out of the incident
  • Represented U.S. flag and International flag shipowners and operators in the negotiation of marine services contracts
  • Represented a major International flag tanker owner and operator in interpleader proceedings commenced in New York Federal Court arising out of the bankruptcy of a global marine fuels provider
  • Represented cargo owners or shippers in claims arising out of a major collision between a car carrier and a chemical carrier off Busan, Korea
  • Represented an international shipper in the investigation of a major engine breakdown occurring onboard a laden bulk carrier enroute to the shipper’s discharge port

Published Articles and Presentations

  • “The New U.S. Ballast Water Management Regulations,” Shipping & Transport International, Vol. 9, No. 2, Winter 2013
  • “Turf Wars: The United States Sues the State of Massachusetts,” Shipping & Transport Lawyer, Vol. 5, No. 2, Summer 2005
  • “Multi-Contact Analysis for a Multinational Industry: The United States’ Approach to Choice of Law Analysis in the Enforcement of Maritime Liens,” University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 1, Winter 2001
  • “Goods that Package Themselves,” Shipping & Transport Lawyer, Vol. 2, No. 5, Summer 2001
  • “New Rules for the Assessment of Natural Resource Damages Caused by Oil Pollution Incidents in the United States,” Gard News, Issue 141, April 1996