rHE SAMMY· AND THE MAcMASTER
1/. THE SAMMY· AND THE·
R. ·W. ·BURKE.
(District Court, S. 11. N61JJ York. .May 81, 1888.)
COLLISION-STEAlI:-TUGs-CROSSING-BAD LOOKOUT-DELAY IN BACKING.
The B., with a railroad tIoat along-side, had rounded the Battery into the East river some 800 yards from the shore. The tug B.· with libelant's bark upon her starboard side, was at the time proceeding from Buttermilk channel towards the New York shore. lind was on the starboard hand of theB. latter. when off Hamilton ferry, N. Y., and some 400 yards from the B., gave two whistles, indicating an intention to pass ahead of the B. Getting no answer she repeated her signal, which theB. answered with two; and afterwards, and when, as alleged. the collision was unavoidable, the S. stopped and reversed. The B. contended that she stopped and backed as soon as the two whistles of the B. were heard. Held, that both tugs were answetable for libelant's damage,-the 8. because she was boundto keep out of the way of the B.. and took the risk of an attempt to pass ahead of her; the B. for her neglect in not observing the signal of the B. in time either to have refused assent to the latter's maneuver. or, on assenting to it, to have taken· measures in time to allow the S. to pass in safety ahead ot her.
In Admiralty. Wing, SluYudy Putnam, for libelants. Edward D. McCarthy, for the Sammy Biddle Ward, for the R. W. Burke.
BROWN, J. At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of February 8, 1888, the libelant's bark Mary MacMaster, lashed upon the starboard side of the tug R. W. Burke, while proceeding from Buttermilk channel to pier 6, North river, came in collision with a railro1ld float along·side the steam-tug Sammy, and received damages, for which tllis libel was filed. The collision was probably not more than 300 feet off the end of pier 6. The tide was slack, running a little flood along· the shore. The bark struck the float nearly amid-ships, and about at right angles. Each was previously going at the rate of about three or four knots. The Sammy and her tow had come from the Erie Railroad dock atJersey City, bound up the East river. They rounded the Battery some 300 or 400 yards off; and, when off Hamilton ferry, N. Y., and some 300 yards distant from it, seeing the Burke moving up and crossing the East river towards pier 6, and about 400 yards distant, gave her a signal of two whistles, indicating that she would pass ahead of the Burke and between her and the New York shore. Gettjng no answer, the Sammy, about half a J;Dinute afterwards, when between piers 2 and 3, and from 700 to 900 feet distant from the bark, repeated her signal of two blasts. She starboarded her wheel so as to approach somewhat nearer to the shore, and continued on until the float, which wassome 225 feetlong, reached the line of the Burke's course, and was within50 or 100 feet of her, when her engines
Beported by Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New York bar.
. were reversed, because, as her witnesses allege, the collision was then unavoidable, and reversing was necesi;lary to make the blow as light as possible. She charges that the collision was the sole fault of the tug Burke, in that the latter did not stop and back in time, as she should have done after the assenting whistles, by which it was agreed that the Sammy and her float should pass across the bow of the Burke. The witnesses for the Burke contend that, as soon as the answering signal of two whistles was given, the Burke did stop and reverse her engines full speed, and put her wheel hard a-starboard. If that was done, that was doubtless all that was incumbent upon her, and all that she could do to avoid the collision. I tind it impossible to accept as accurate the testimony of the Burke's witnesses that she reversed at once on answering the Sammy's signal. The Burke was light. The engineer testified that they could stop their ruotion in the water within Without accepting this stntement as perfectly accurate, 1 cannot doubtupon the testimony that she could be stopped still in the water within a space of 500 feet when crossing the fiver at no greater speed than three or iour knots; and their distance apart, when the signals were exchanged, I,cannot find upon the testimony to be nearly so small as 500 feet. This circumstance, however, is not alone sufficient to charge the Burke with fault. She was on the starboard hand of the Sammy, and the latter was therefore bound to keep out of herwll.y. By the ordinary rule the Sammy should have gone to the right and astern of the .Burke, with a signal of one whistle. If, for good reasons, the Sammy chose to perform her duty of keeping out of the way by going ahead of t,he Burke, instead of astern' of her, her statutory duty to keep out oftheway of the Burke still remained unchanged; and the Burke, in assenting to the Sammy's design to go ahead of her, did not guaranty its success; nor· was she ,pound, in consequence of that assent, to stop and back at once,unless, risk ()f collision was apparent; and if passing that manner, risk of collision at the moment signals were exchanged, both would be in fault for giving and assenting to signals for that mode of passing, when there was no good reason for adopting that irregular mode,and 'when, as in this case, the situation admitted the Sammy's going astern of the Burke by simply slowing for a few seconds until the Burke passed ahead. The evidence does not show sufficient reason for the Sammy's departing from the ordinary course of going to the right and astern of the Burke by slowing, which she might have done without porting her wheel, if the Saxe and her tow, which were on her starboard quarter, impeded her porting. It does not appear, however, that the Saxe and her tow had any difficulty in keeping away from the Burke, or that she would not have followed the Sammy's porting, so far as necessary, had the Sammy ported. It was perfectly safe, filasy, and simple, however, to stop for a few seconds; while going ahead and to the left was exceptional, and obviously more or less dangerous. The latter course was therefore at the risk of the Sammy, and she must be held in fault for departing, without necessity, from the ordinary rule, and for attempting a hazardous. maneuver, which she could not perform
W · .llOut
imposing on the Burke duties that she had no right to impose.
The Grcenpoint, 31 Fed. Rep. 231; The Susquehanna, ante, 320.
The Burke I must also hold in fault, first, for not keeping a proper lookout, and for not giving proper attention to the Sammy until within 300 yards of her. She was in sight long before. Had she been noticed in time, her first signal could not have been unperceived. The course of the Burke across the river, and athwart the courses of vessels going up and down, made it specially obligatory upon her to observe them, and to give them timely signals. Considering the numerous vessels passingaboutthe Battery, although there may be practical difficulties· in a lite:r:al observance of the inspector's rules,which reqt,lire an exchange of signals when vessels approach within half a mile of each other, the.neglect of the Burke to observe the Sammy's signal until she was so near as in this case was inexcusable. Had the Sammy's movements ,noticed, there would have been time, probably, for better judgmemt as taher rate of speed, and the probability of her passing ahead of the B:urke safely; so that her captain would have been prepared either to J:efuse assent to her signal of two whistles to allow her to pass ahead, or, upon ,such assent, to have enab,led him to determine better at what distance ·it was necessary for him to reverse, in order to allow the Sammy to pass safely. The Burke, as I have said, was not by her mere assenting whistles bound at once to stop and back, unless Wl1l3 in fact necessary to avoid collision; but, after having agreed.tQ that mode of passing, she was bound, knowing the intentions of the£ammy, to which she had assented, to stop and back just so soon as the course agreed on made stopping and backing necessary to avoid collision. . The bia, 25 Fed. Rep. 844; The Aurania, 29 Fed. Rep. 124. Quite a number of witnesses for the Burke have testified that in their judgment the collision would have been avoided if the Sammy had: not reversed when her bows had about reached the line of the bark's course, and when only about 50 or 100 feet distant from her. There seems to me very little probability that this contention is correct.Responsibilities for collision are not to be· determined by measures like this taken in
For the above reasons both must be held in fault, and the damages divided.
MCCAWIN. 1 MCCALDIN.
et al·. v·. THE W.J.
(Di8trict Court, S. D. New York. April 28, 1888.)
CoLLISION-TuG-VESSEL ATANCHQR. .
I. .BAME-ANCBOR WATCH AND LIGHT. . . A vessel in the North river; two-thirds of tbeway across from the New York .8hore.)is not required to m'intain an anchor wa.tch in addition to an anchor light.
The steam.-tug M. had the government vessel J. in tow, bound up the North river for Thirty-Fourth street,· Off Twenty-Sixth or Twenty-Seventh stree' lay the schooner G. and the ship 'B., the latter being some oW feet nearer the Jersey shore than theG.,and·a,bout .800 feet further up river. At about 7 0' clock ,,' the weather was reallonably clear. and the tide strong flood. The tug, which had come up river on a line to the eastward of the G., when near the latter attempted to go to the westward, and between her and the H, The government vessel struck, tirst, the G.. and then the H., doing damage to both, fOr which these suits were brought. .The tug claimed that the collision was due tothil failure of theJ. to follow the tug properly, or heed the latter's ordersas to her wheel. i Held, that though the government vessel (which could not be .libeled) appeared to have been in fault for negligent lookout, her fault did not excuse the tug (which had probabb' miscalculated the strength of the . tide) for not having seasonably shaped her course, when further down the river, so as to pass straight between the H. and the G.; that the second collis· ion was the. result of the first. and that the tug was liable for both.
In Admiralty. . :.. Wing, Shoudy &:' Putnam, for libelant Bischofi'. A.J. Heqth, for libelant Bunker. Butler. B}i1J,man &; Hubbard. for claimants·.
BItOWN, J. On the 10th of September, 1887, at about 7 P. M., the govemment vessel Jamestown was in tow of the steam-tug W. J. MeCaldin, upon a hawser about 30 fathoms long. While proceeding up the North river to her intended, place of anchorage, off Thirty-Fourth street, she came into collision, first, with the small schooner Glenullen, and soon after with the German ship Hudson; both of which were lying at anchor off Twenty-Sixth or Twenty-Seventh street, and were injured by the collision. These libels were filed by their owners to recover their re,spective damages. There is considerable difference in the testimony as to the precise place of the Glenullen in the river,-whether she was half or two-thirds of the way across from the New York shore. I judge from the testimony that she was considerably over on the Jersey side of the river. I do not regard this, however, as a very material circumstance. The tide was Rtrong flood. The Hudson was lying from 800 to 1,200 feet further up the river, and, as I find, some 500 or 600 feet lReported by Edward G. Benedict, Esq.· of the New York bar.