steamer for avoiding a collision, then the doubt must be resolved against the vessel which failed to comply with the statutory requirement. I cannot find as a fact in this case that a torch shown bv the Mott would not have been seen by those on board the Oregon;" and for this reason, if for no other, I must find the Mott guilty of contrib. utory fault. The Crawford, 6 Fed. Rep. 911; 'I'll(, Excelsior, '12 Fed. Rep. 203. The witnesses differ as to the distance a light could be seen on the occasion in question. The second mate of the Matt says the lights of the steamer could not be seen plainly 200 feet away. The look· out says a torch-light could not have been seen through the fog more than the distance of a vessel's length. The master places the distance at 100 feet. Thtl master of the Oregon thinks it might have loomed up 500 feet off. The master of the Matt knew, from the repeated whistles, that there was a steamer in the neighborhood. He could not locate. her, but he had occasion to know that it was possible she might be near by, although the sound of her signals indicated that she was going off to westward. It was an occasion for the greatest precaution. In the case of The Eleanora, supra, the schooner had her colored lights set and burning, but Judge BLATCHFORD found as a fact that they were not seen at any time from the steamer, nor could they, or the lights of the steamer, have been seen, in such a fog as prevailed, at any useful distance. The master of the schooner came on deck very shortly before the collision. The persons on deck were listening and looking. They had a fog-horn, and it was being blown at proper intervals. In the opinion of the court, Mr. Chief Justice WAITE said that the schooner "was sailing in what she knew, or ought to have known, was a common thoroughfare of approaching steam-vessels at the time. Their fog signals were heard from various directions, and she was heading on a course crossing their regular tracks. The statutory rule is imperative. · .. .. No sailing vessel has a right to disregard this regulation because she thinks it unimportant. If she knows of the approach of a steam-vessel, she must exhibit the light, or take the risks of loss occasioned by its absence. .. · .. If exhibited, possibly the torch might not have been seen far enough away to have done any good, but such a possibility furnishes no excuse to the vessel for its absence. Nothing short of an absolute certainty that it could do no good, to be established by proof on the trial, 'will justify an omission to obey the rule. In a fog, all vessels must do all that is required of them by law or usage. While more is demanded of a steamer than a sailing vessel, it is as important that the sailing vessel should obey all the rules prescribed for her as that the steamer should not neglect those which are to govern her. Actual safety is depAndent upon a strict performance by each of all their respective duties. .. · .. It was not proper to assume that the torch· light would have done no good. It was her duty to exhibit such a
signal, and, under the circumstances of the case, I cannot but consider it a fault that she omitted to do so." Applying to the case in hand the rule thus laid down, the conclusion must be that the Mott cannot be exonerated from fault in the respect named. As the Oregon and the Mott are both found to have be"en in fault, let there be a decree dividing the damages.
THE ONEIDA. THE MANITOWOO. TISDALE
THE ALPHA and others.
June 2, 1886.)
(District Oourt, N. D. New York.
CoLLISION-VESSELS IN Tow-MANEUVER IN EXTREMIS-STRENGTH Oll' HAWSER -UNNECESSARY AND EXTRAORDINARY STRAIN.
The canal-boat B., owned by the libelants, collided with the barge M. Each vessel was in charge of its own tug, and both were without other motive power. When about one-fourth of a mile apart, and in mid-channel, signals were exchanged. When a few hundred feet to the westward of libelants' ship, the M.'s hawser parted, and she was forced obliquely across the river, and collided with the G. The libelant's tug maneuvered in accordance with the course indicated bv signal until after the parting of the hawser, and, when confronted with the Budden peril incident thereto, the master of libelant's tug used his best judgment in maneuvering. The collision was caused by subjecting the M.'s hawser to an unusual and extraordinary strain, in consequence of which it parted. lIeld, that the master of libelant's tug was justified in presuming that the M.'s tug would take the course iudicated by signal, and was under no obligation to stop or to maneuver as if anticipating an accident, and that, when confronted with a sudden peril, the only obligation imposed by law was the use of his best judgment. Held. further, that if the hawser was strong enough to stand any ordinary strain, and if it was, without cause, subjected to an extraordinary strain, the :U:s tug was chargeable with negligence.
In Admiralty. Benjamin II. Williams, for libelant. Josiah Cook, for the Alpha. George Cltnton, for the Oneida. Willis O. Chapin, for the Manitowoo. COXE, J. This is a oollision case. On the thirteenth of May, 1885, the loaded canal-boat George Barnard, owned by the libelant, was down the Buffalo river in tow of the steam-tug Oneida, destined for the Erie canal via the Commercial slip. At the same time the tug Alpha was steaming up the river, having in tow the
lReported by Theodore M. Etting. Esq., of the Philadelphia bar.
a large barge, 225 feet long, and 25 feet and 9 inches beam. Both the canal-boat and the barge were without motive power, and each was wholly under the control of its respective tug. When the tugs were about a quarter of a mile apart, and nearly in the cen· tel' of the river, the Alpha gave one blast upon her whistle, and was answered by a corresponding blast from the Oneida. This signal meant that the Alpha would go to the right, and that the Oneida mu-st do the same. The latter's response indicated that she understood the Alpha's signal, and would do as requested, viz., keep to the right. When a few hnndred feet west of Commercial slip the Alpha permitted the Manitowoc to run ahead of her, the line between them parted, 'and the barge, being thus adrift and uncontrollable, proceeded obliquely across the river, and struck the canal-boat on her port quarter, just abaft of the cabin, causing the injuries complained of. The river at the point of collision is about 290 feet wide. At the north-west comer of the Commercial slip three canal-'boats were lying abreast, extending about 54 feet into the channel. The following diagram may serve to illustrate the situation:
---l LLill --..,..,P9.l9..ll9ltl1
Co. ., b",.
The collision was not inscrutable. Some one was at fault. Who was it? No negligence is imputed to the Barnard. She did all that was possible to avert the accident. This was practically conceded on the argument. Regarding the Oneida, also, the proof discloses no well-founded accusation. It is said that the accident might have been avoided if she had stopped, or passed on down the l'i"er between the canal-boats and the Manitowoc, or turned to the left, and passed the barge on her starboard side. The difficulty with this reasoning is that it assumes that the Oneida knew, or had reason to suspect, that the barge's line would part, and leave her helpless and unmanageable opposite the entrance to the slip. The Oneida presumed, and was
justified in presuming, that the Alpha would take the course indicated by her signal, and go to the right. Had she done so there would have been no danger. The Oneida was on her own side of the river. She was proceeding in u. propel' manner and at an ordinary rate of speed. It would be a new and startling proposition in maritime law for the court to assert that it is the duty of vesBels meeting in a wide water-way to stop when a quarter of a mile apart. If such a rule were enforced the vessels of our inland commerce would soon be "rot. ting at the walls." After the line parted, the danger was imminent. There was no opportunity for nice and accurate calculations. If, can. fronted with this sudden peril, the master of the tug used his best judgment, it was all the law required of him. But the course he did take was, in the circumstances, the wisest for him to pursue. The Barnard almost escaped as it was. Had the Oneida attempted any of the maneuvers now suggested, the probability is that the disaster would have been more serious. Coming now to the Alpha and the Manitowoc, it should be remembered that the latter was a large, heavily laden barge, depending solely upon the tug for locomotion. She was helpless the moment she was cast loose. It can be confidently affirmed, then, that the accident happened because the line parted. Through whose negligence did the hawser break? When this question is answered, the party re· sponsible for the collision will be revealed. The hawser furnished by the barge was an ordinary six-inch hal'. bor line. It was nearly new, having been used but once before. A tlection of it was produced upon the hearing, and, although examined by hostile witnesses, no fault in it has been pointed out. Being strong enough to withstand any ordinary strain, it must have parted because subjected to an extraordinary strain. The of the Alpha frankly admits that the hawser broke because he pnlled too hard upon it. When within a few hundred feet of the lllip, the tug, in her efforts to bring the barge safely around the curve, put her helm hard a-port, thus heading for the south side of the river. In this position the barge passed the tug, and, in seaman's parlance, "tripped her up." They were proceeding against the current at the rate of about four miles an hour, their courses forming an angle of about 45 deg. A tremendous leverage was thus brought upon the hawser, which rolled the tug up almost upon her beam's end. No ordinary line could resist such a strain. It broke about a minute after the helm was put hard a-port. There can be no doubt that it was bad seamanship for the Alpha, with so short 1 a line, and so heavy and unwieldy a tow, to permit hen,elf to get into such a di· lemma. This was negligence, and to it the collision is alone attrib. utable. It follows that the libelant is entitled to a decree against the Alpha, with costs, and a reference to compute the amount due. As to the Oneida and the Manitowoc the libel is dismissed, without costs, but the Oneida is entitled to recover her disbursements of the libelant.
'l'HE EL DORADO.! CAHILL
THE EL DORADO.
(District Oourt, S. D. R!!!IJ) York.
May 27, 1886.)
COLLISION - CANAL-BOAT AND STEAMER'S PROPELLER PROPELLER AT REST-LIABILITY.
While the libelant's canal-boat H. was being warped by her captain into a slip on the North river, her bow came in contact with the propeller of the steam-ship El Dorado, which was lying at the J?ier. For the resulting damage the EI Dorado was libeled. Held, on the eVidence, that the steamer's propeller was not in motion at the time of collision, and the steam-ship consequently was not liable. '
In Admiralty. E. D. McCarthy, for libelant. Charles H. Tweed and R. D. Benedict, for claimants.
BROWN, J. On the twenty-sixth of September, 1885, just prior to' the departure of the steam-ship EI Dorado from the slip between piers 36 and 37, North river, the libelant's canal-boat Humphreys was injured by her bow's coming in contact with the blade of the steamer's propeller. The canal-boat had been brought into the slip a short time before by a tug, and cast off near the side of the steamer. The slip was nearly full of boats. The captain of the canal-boat, after she was CHSt off, pulled up along-side the steamer to another canalboat further up the slip, and outside of a barge that was next to the wharf. While pulling on this line, the bow of his boat came in contact with the propeller. The libelant's witnesses testify that the propeller was in motion; that they saw the commotion of the water made by it; and the libelant's theory is that it was the suction eaused by the propeller's motion that drew the bow of the canalboat against the propeller blade. The testimony on the part of the steamer leaves little doubt that this took place somewhere from 4: 15 to 4: 30 P. M. Her testimony is also to the effect that the steamer's machinery and her propeller were worked, as usual, from an hour to an hour and a half, up to 2: 30 o'clock; that at that time the engine was stopped, the machinery made fast and not moved, nor the propeller blade turned from that time until after the accident, and after the canal·boat had sunk; nor until the steamer had been warped out some 50 feet clear of the canal-boat. The accident is attributed to the forward motion of the boat as she was pulled along, combined with the set of the tide in the slip southward beneath the wharf. I am satisfied that injuries like the present might be produced by either of the causes mentioned. According to the almanac, it was high water on that day at 9: 35 A. M. It would be low water at about
JReported by Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New York bal'.