THE CITY OF TRURO.
OF TRURO. I
(Di8WOict (lourt, 8. D. New York. June 5, 1888.)
COLLISION-BETWEEN STEAM AND SAIL-GENERAL REsPONSmILITY.
Where upon the whole case there is no decisive evidence of fault on the part of the sailing vessel, the steamer must answer for the collision, if it was not inevitable.
2. SAME-FAILURE OF STEAMER TO AVOID SAILING VESSEL. The schooner W. M. was sailing eastward by night through Long Island
sound, when she perceived, some miles distant, and nearly ahead, the lights of the steamer City of T. The steam-ship, sailing nearly due west, struck the schooner, and sank her. The testimony from the schooner was positive that she no change of course. The steamer alleged that the schooner altered her course,' and showed four changes in her colored lights, and that this brought about the collision. Held, that the schooner's lights were either not seen in time by the steamer, or were neglected after being seen, and that the cause of the collision was the failure of the steamer to shape her course sea· sonably. so as to go on either side of the schooner with safety.
In Admiralty. R. D. Benedict, for libelants. Sidney ChUbb, for ,claimants.
BROWN, J. On the 6th of February, 1888, at about 90'clock P. M., while the libelant's schooner William Mackay was sailing eastward in Long Island" sound, a little to the westward of the Race, she came in collision with the steam-ship City of Truro, going west, and sank in a few minutes afterwards. This libel was filed for the loss of the schooner and cargo. The weather was good; the night clear, but dark, and good for seeing lights. The proper course of the schooner was east. Her witnesses testify that that was the course on which she was sailing, and which she maintained without change until the collision. The wind was about N. N. W., i. e., about two points abaft the beam. She had all sails set, and was going at the rate of about four miles per hour. The steamer's course was about due west. Before the collision her wheel was put hard a-starboard, and at the time of collision she had swung from two to three points to the southward. The schooner's bowsprit struck the steamer on her starboard side, about 30 or 40 feet from her stem, and was broken near the cap, and then her stem struck the steamer further aft, and was more or less carried away. Her master and three other men had barely time to escape in a small boat before the schooner sank. The libel charges fault upon the steamer in that, being to the northward of the schooner's course, she improperly undertook to cross the latter's bows, and did not keep out of her way, as she was bound to do. The faults charged upon the schooner are that she was improperly steered, and did not keep her proper course; that she showed four times a change
Reported by:Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New York bar.
in her coiored lights, and finally sheered to starboard under a port wheel, which, it is alleged, was the immediate cause of the collision. The navigation of the schooner, at the time of the collision, and before, was in charge oftha cll,ptain, assistedhya Young man,:wpQ was at the wheel. There were but two other men on board, and they were below. The captain and the wheelsman testify positively that no change was' made in their course. Their account of the matter, from the time the steamlight was seen, three 6rfour miles dist..<tnt, a little on their port ,bow, is, in it,self, natural, consistent, and credible. Nor do I discover in their testimony anything to cast suspicion on their capacity or truth.fulness.. The testimony as to the precise angle of collision is too tain to be to great weight.· The anglen:mst have been less than a right angle, or the vessels would not have pass,ed starboard to starboard. When, upotithe whole case, there is no decisive evidence of fault on the part of the sailing vessel, the must answer for the collision, where DO circumstances appear to show that the accident was inevitable. With plenty' and in good weather. a steamer is bound to take the necessary measures in time to avoid. a sailing vessel. The different accounts of the several persons examined in behalf of the steamer are in many respects widely discrepant, and even inconsistent with themselves and with each other. Though four changes of the schooner's lights from red to green, and vice versa fr,om green to red, are alleged to have been seen by several witnesses, only one testifies that at any time were both of the schooner's lights seen, and that only once; and 'of this there is some doubt. This is strong evidepce of a lack of proper attention to the schooner, if the several changes of lights occurred as alleged. Thelast three changes .are stated to have occurred within inter,vals ofa few seconds only. If these several changes were seen, they might be caused merely by a little yawing of the schooner while sailing under an aft wind, which would in no way involve any such substantial change of the schooner's course as to interfere with the steamer's performance of .her duty to keep out of the way by a reasonable margin, if she had seasonably shaped her course to do so. I find it impossible, also, to credit the statement of the steamer's witnesses that the green light of the schooner was first seen a little on her port bow, and then brought by a starboard wheel to bear two points off the steamer's starboard, bow, at anysuc1;l considerable distance as the steamer's witnesses allege. The estimates ofthe distance at which the schooner firststarboarded are very diverse, and it is difficult to .come to any satisfactory conclusion upon the steamtestimony alone. The master thinks the schooner's light was first seen when a mile and a half distant; but from what he says was d,one in the short time that elapsed up to the ,collision, it is difficult to make out a whole interval of two minutes from the time the schooner's light was first seen; or that the schooner could have ,been as much as a balf mile distant. When the order to hard a-starboard was given, the vessels 300 yards apart. Op the whole, lam were probably not over 200 inclined to the opinion that the steamer was observed from the schooner long before the schoon,er was observed from the steamer; that they were
M'AV'OY tI. THE MIGNON.
going in very nearly opposite directions, the steamer being at ftnt a little to the northward of the. schooner and a little on her port bow; that the schooner's lights either were not noticed until they were quite near, or, if noticed from one to two miles off, were neglected afterwards tl1 qUite near, and that it was the schooner's red light that had been all the time before exposed to view; that the steamer then put her hard a-starboard to cross the schooner's bows; that the steamer wl:tS in fault for not seasonably shapipg her course to go on either side of the sohooner by a. reasonable margin forsafety, as she might easily have done; and that the evidence does not sustain either of the faults alleged against the schooner. The libelant is therefore entitled to a decree, with an order of reference to compute the damages.
11. THE MIGNON. I
(Diafriet Oourt, E. D. New York. May 12,1888.
COLLISION-BBTWEEN STEAK AND SAIL-LUFFING.
The sloopT.; sailing across New York bay from Bay Ridge, and the steamyacht M., proceeding down· the bay, came in collision. The only question in" volved hi the case was whether the sloop held her course. On the evidence, that the sloop luffed without perceiving the proximity of the yacht, and tl;1at this was the cause of the collision.
Alexanckr & Ash, for libelant.
In Admiralty. Libel for damages.
Blandy« Hatch, for claimant.
BENEDICT, J. This action arose out of the collision which occurred in the: bay of New York, on the 14th day of September, 1885, between
the yacht Mignon and the sloop Typhoon. The yacht Mignon was a small steam-yacht, at the time proceeding down the bay to see the race between the Genesta and the Puritan. The wind was light from E. S. E., and the tide high water slack. The sloop was tacking down the bay. At Bay Ridge she tacked, and came on to the port ta,!::k, and stood over..across the bay. When about the middle of the channel, the sloop and the yacht came in collision, the boom of the sloop running into the starboard door forward of the yacht's cabin. Both vessels were damto this sloop the action is brought. On the part of the sloop it is claimed that she held her course, and while on her "ourse was run into by the yacht because of the failure of those on the yacht to see her; On the part of the yacht it is contended that the sloop crossf'd the yacht's bows on her course, and then suddenly came into the ,.j,:1:l.d, threw herself in the way of the yacht when it was impossible for the yachUo avoid her. The case turns upon thequestign whether
Reported by Edward G. Benedict.- Esq., of the New Yorkba.r.
the sloop heldhlilr course or not. The case presents this peculiarity: that neither the master nor any of the crew of the yacht were called as witnesses. The absence of the master is excused by his being sick. The owner of the yacht was standing by the pilot-house at the time of the accident,and a gentleman,a guest, was also standing there, with two ladies, also guests,. at the time of the accident. These are the only witnesses on the part of the yacht. They all concur in stating that the reason of the collision was a sudden luff into the wind by the sloop, just after she had passed the bow of the yacht. These witnesses also testify that the master of the sloop, at the time of the accident, stated that he did not see the yacht, and that the collision was owing to his fault. The owner of toe yacht also testifies that a few days after the acoident the owner of the sloop called at his office to ascertain the damages, and there admitted his liability to pay. On the part of the libelant three witnesses are called, being the owner and crew of the sloop. These witnesses all assert that the sloop held her course, and did not come into the wind. The admission of the owner, testified to by those on the yacht, is denied by the owner of the sloop. The absence of any of the crew of the yacht renders it somewhat unsatisfactory to determine the case UpO.1 the testimony presented. My impression from the testimony adduced is that the race, then about to start from a point below the sloop, engrossed the attention of those on the sloop, and that they came into the wind with the idea of coming near to the fleet attending the racing yachts, without observing the proximity of the yacht. The race and fleet below them furnished a sufficient motive for such a maneuver on the part of tlle sloop. It is difficult to see how the yacht could fail to see the sloop, because the sloop was sailing between them and the racing fleet ahead of them, and equally difficult to account for her not avoiding the sloop, if the sloop held her course. I incline also to believe the testimony of the yacht as to the admissions. My conclusion, therefore, is that the collision in queStion was not caused by any fault on the part of the yacilt. and the :'ibel must be dismissed, with costs.
THE SUSQUEHANNA.! THE WM. C. NICOL. LAWRENCEVILLE CEMENT Co.
THE SUSQUEHANNA NICOL.
(Di8trict Court. 8. D. .New York. April 81, 1888.)
COLTJISION...,..RIGHT OF WAy-SIGNALS.
A steamel', having the right of w"y, that seasonably indicates to another by her OWB original signal of two whistles that the latter shall go ahead of her,
·Reported by Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New York liar.