C1TY OF SPltINGFIELD..
, '.PHESAMMm. LUTHER and, others v. THE CITY
dl; N. Y. TRANSP. (10.
(lMirict OOuirt, S. D. New YOrk. January 81, 1887.)
'1,. COLLISION...,.. :EAsT hlVER-TmE <.)'URbNTS - KEEPING' OUT OJ' THill WAy .....
SAFE! MARGIN, ,,
Aste:atp.el', 'Mund to keep out of the way, must, pe,ril, shape her C9\lrs,e ,ror a ,s.afe margin against the contingencies of naVigatIon, and theef· feetsof tide currents. Held, in this case,that theconfiict in the evidenee -,was probably in part to be explained by the westward set of the fiood·tide off Twenty.third street, which changed to the westward the course of the 8., a steamer 800 feet long, as she struck the current, and that the collision was by her fault only. SAJitl1j..l..TUG AND TOW-SunDEN BACKINcr-LINES PaTED -ERROROJ'JlJDG., rrhecollisi,on being with. a heavy <;ar-11oat in to'\v' along:side a' tug, and the S. contending that the fioat had' broken loose from the tug just before the col,lillion, through: the tug's too sudden batiking, which the tug denied, held that, eveni! the Unes were parted, as,alleged, before the collision, the tug's backing was made necessary by the fault of the 8. when the danger was imminent; tllal'the error, if there was any error, was one of judgment, under the exciuiment,of the moment. and not a 1ell:al fault.
lIJlIl1!Q'T U'l: EXTREMIS NOT A FAULT., '
In Admiralty. E. D. McCarthy, for the Sammie. Wilcox, Ada'lll8 &: MacklJin,· for the City of Springfield.
BIl.OWN,J. The collision in' this case occurred' at about half past 6 "inthemoming of November 19, 1885, in the East river, about opposite Eighteenth street, and not far from the middle of the river, between a 184 feet long, lashed upon the starboard side of the tug Sammie, bound up river, and the passenger steamer City of Springfield, bound down. The starboard bow of the steamer struck the starboard comer of the float, and each was somewhat damaged. There is very perplexing confiiotin regatd to many of the details of this collision. Many of them it is not necessary to notice. The,·tide was the last of the flood. The Sammie had passed the Tenth-street buoy in about mid-river,-that is, a little to the eastward of that buoy,-and, when at about Twelfth street saw'· the green light of the City of Springfield, which was at that time coming down between the black buoys, off street, having taken the westerly channel past Blackwell's island. The ferry-boat Rockaway was art!that time crossing the river, bound for her slip at Twentythird street. She gave a signal of two whistles to the City of Springfield, whioh the latter answered With two whistles, and starboarded her Wheel, g-Oing. under the ferry-boat's stern about opposite Twenty-third Two whistles were about that time given to the ferry-boat
rado, which was coming up the river ahead of the Sammie, and bound for the same slip as the RockawliY. When about opposite Twenty-third street, and under the stern of the Rockaway, the City of Springfield gave a signal of two whistles to the Sammie, which the latter answered with two. Each had the other at that time a little on her own starboard bow, and both agreed that, iftheir' courses had been preserved unchanged, they would easily, have cleared each other, starboard to starboard, by a considerabWlnterval. Shortly after this a signal of one whistle was heard by each boat. Each, attributes it to the other, a.nd each denies that she gave' ahy Neither answered with: one Whistle; b.ut immediately the two boatsagaip exchanged the same signals of two whistles a,s before, indicating that theyshould pass starboard to starboard. Atjhe satJ;lEl time; according t6the testimony of each, the boats were backed strong, and neither changed 'her course, aiid,notwithstanding these efforts,the occurred. It is plain that, there must be contesti';ll9J;lY, on one side or the other, or else there , were some other circumstances not taken into account. The City of Springfield insists that when she passed under the stern of tpe Twent,Y-third street, she was heading from one to two points east of south, and that she maintained this course until the thecdllision would necessarily have happened collision. If this considerably ne$.rer to the Brooklyn than to the New York shore. I am satisfied that ,this is not the, fact. There is, I think, a very considerable preponderance of evidence that the collision was much nearer to the New York shore than in the middle of the river. The natural course of the Springfield, from between the black buoys off Thirty-fourth street'to a Ii ttle east of the Tenth street buoy,which it appears was her usual course} would have brought hei\on;the New Y'Orkside.The Sammie's ordinary course carried her towards the western side of the river. The tide set that way; and evidence isthat,fromth'etime the whistles were given; 'iheSammie starboarded her wheel more than necessary to' 'keep bericourse, and swung 'about a point 'tbthe westward, which would bavecarried',het still more tOtbe westerly half of the river. Thesecircumstan6essoooncur with·tbedirect testimony of several disinterested witnesses, from other boats in the vicinity, to the effect that the collision was considerabl¥ on the New York side of mid-river, and onlyabo.ut one-third: the distance from the New York shore, tbatT'must find that the collisionwitsln that vicinity l'athel'than in mid.river or on the Brooklyn Bide. The evidence from eaeh boat is so positive that she gave no single " whistle, that I think the explanation must be found in a signal heard from some otnerboat, which each of these boats attributed to the other. .But, as the whistle was ,followed immediately by a repetition of two blasts from each, no harm can have come froPl it. It in no way accounts for or excuses the collision on either side. On the whole evidence, it is clear that the two vessels were approaching each other all the way between Tenth and Thirty-fourth streets very nearly head and head, but, at first, each slightly on the other's starboard
THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD.
bow.Tl;1etestimony of tbewitqeasea for the Sammie they saw the Ted light of the CitY' of Springfieldafterl:lergl'eenligbt was shut in, strongly ,confirms,t4e inference from the pIlUle :of the collision itself, 'that the City, of Springfield must,: lit some ,time after she had first starboarded to go under the stern of·the Rockaway; have turned again to the westward, if, in fact, sh¢..did at fi,rst change to one or two points east of south. In no other way could her red light have been seen, and in no other way could the Sprlngfi,eld have reached the place of collision. The course Of S. by E. could notpossiblybave been continued long; only two or three' minutes, at most.' A sPl3edy change was necessary in order to avoid grounding om the. Brooklyn shore. A further'circumstance, that is testified to very stl'Onglyby Bas.senden, one oftbe ferry-boat pil!lts, called hythe Springfield,'.pos.sibly had an important effect in bringing the Springfield upon the'Sal:I\mie's course, namely, the strong set of the flood-tide from off the Nineteenth street buoy towards tbe Twenty-tbird streetalip. This witness says: "Tbe flood-tide sets from the Nineteenth street ,buoy Eltraight at Twenty-third street pier. It sets over in that cove, and as direct from that buoy as you call draw a line into the, slip." When the City of Springfield, ,about 300 feet long, came down, and, etruck tbi,s westw,ard oU1'l;'ent, that of itself wou,ld tend to change her heading, and sufficiently;, perhaps, to explain het westerly divergence, even without any cbangeof helm, whioh her witIlesses so positively deQY, :This would the change of the Springfield's lights from glJlen to red, which-tbe Sammie's, witnesses testified to. And, the had got wholly into the westward current, her starboard bring her, againint() the. position at the collision sworn to, hea<lingalittle towards:t1w Brooklyn shore, wh.ile her own canting to the westwarc;il with the current Wpuld give an appearance of porting to the Wg.,;"" . " Wthetber these, or some Qther circumstances not appearing, were the this collision,..,.-such aswant of a continuous lookoll t on the properqbservance of the tug, or mistake for the Jason westward; in morning, of which there is at least a, suggestion of doubt, from the fact that none of ,the' Springfield's observed the Sammie's lights, though they burning,-I think this collision must be ascribed the failure of the City of Springfield to provide a sufficient margin for safety in shaping her course to pass to starboard of the Sammie. Whatever may have been the natural effect of the tidal current, she was bound to bike it into account, and provide against it. The Sammie ,wl1s proceeding under one bell, and very slowly through the water. She courd not change her position much in the short time aftex: the last blasts of two whistles were given, and she was all that time backing. The City of Springfield was at that time going thr?ugAtl;J.e water at three or four times tbe'speedof the Sammie." As steamer, sbe was under perfect control, even in baGking, a which the tug was not. I t was the steamer's duty to provide a safe 'mat@n to the eastward, in accordance with he'r signals. The tug did to count upon" by starboarding bel' all that the steamer had ,1;1.
h'eIm. The fact of' itself; and the 'little,ch4.nge·,possible to the, Sammie, fire: conclttsive mind,' thMthe :Cityof Springfield: didMt fulfill her 'duty to ltllow a·suffioiertt margin for 'safety, as she might have done, ·andWas bound to do"and that the blame of the collisibri'il'itistrestup6rt her.' : . It was strenuously contended on the trial that the hawsers that attached the float to the tug Were parted' befol'e the collision, through the sudden backirtg'of,the tug; that tbebows of thefl.oat were swung somewhat to thlfeastward, upon the tug's]etting 'her helm run looSe on backing; and that,but for this swing',of the float to the eastward;' no 'collision would 'have occurred. There! bah be no question that it wastha duty of the ·Sl1tntnietoback when she did. It is"stoutly: denied byseveral witnesses on her part that the', lines'were parted except by the force of the blow of the collision. But'if they were .parted ,before the collision, through the: tug!s backing, I cannot regard tbatas any exclisefor the steamer, because the danger of collision was theri imminent and:Gbvious, through the City6fSpringfield'sfault; and, even Jif the backing was too strong or sttddeti:fdr the strain made by 80 heavy a float, it was nothing more than anerrorofjudgment'in the/excitement of a peril in extremis, for which the 'steamer stilHetnains ·toblame. The Elizabeth. Jones, 112 U. S. 514;526, 5 Slip.' Ct. nep.468.. Nor had the steamer any right to go so near to the tug, wIthout reason' or' hecessity,and to make no allowance for such contingencies of navigation. The Columbia, 9 Ben. 254; , The Laura V;; Rose, 28 Fed. Rep. 104; The Aurania, ·29' Fed. Rep. 98. I think the' evidence sustains' the claim· 6n the part' of the tug that, from the tim.ethe first two whistles were exchanged until she backed, she .had starboardedher helm so as tagh futther to the westward, and thereby aided the Springfield, and did nothing to thwart her. She was proceed. ing very slowly; backed strong when collision was threatened; and, in my opinion, made no swing to starboard other than the slight dhange necessarily incident to the backing Of a right-handed propeller. This was all she was called upon to do. Thl,'llibel against her must therefore 'be dismissed, with costs; and that against the steamer sustained, with a reference to compute the damages.
RA.iltlARK: and another'll.'l'HE 1. C.
(OirClUit Oourt, .1JJ. iJ.
ST. 4233, RULES 20,23. ... '. Rules 20 and 2S of section 42311, Rev.' St: U. S. are to effect that, when a steam-V'-6ssel and 1\ sail-vesse. are proceeding in such :directions as to involve ristt of :collision, the steam-tessel.shall keep out of the way of sail-vessel, and the shall keep its. course. These rules apply strictly
Reported by Joseph P. Hornor, Esq., of the New Orleans bar.