CITY OF SAVANNAB.
TIlE CITY 011' SAYANNAB. I
C:DIfbrlct OOurt, S. D. New York. March 28, 18111).)
1. CoL'tiSIPN-FAILtlBB TO SHOW LIGHTS-MUTUAL FA.ULT.
Though; in a ease of collision by night, the vessel failing to sbow the statutory light8\1lust be held in that does not relieveth' other vessel, if, under the same circumstances! she would bave been held liable .&lre the introduction of the lam requiring ' . '
SAME-FLASH-LIGHT-OVEBTAltING VESSEL-'NEGLIGENT LOOKOUT.
The, schoQner L,' was coming up the Atialltic coast, the port 01 New York, ;heading nearly (or the Scotland light-ship. 'The night was overcast and dark, but tbe was clear. A steamer's lights were seen of them by t110se on.thesailing vessel several. minu1jes before the collision wbich ensued between the twove8sel/1'. No tOrch was shown br the sailing vessel, and she was not seen by UIltU the latter was withlU a few feet of her. Held, tbat both vessEll. were in. fault for the collision,-the schooner, for not exhibiting a torch; the steamer, for not sooner obs6rvingthe sailing vessel.
·InAdmiralty. Action for damage by collision. , Good1"i.ch, Deady Goodtich, for libelants. H()CUll'iH' Lauterbach Johnscm, for claimants. BltOWN, .T. On the night of March 30,1889, about $ix miles south-ea.$t of the Highland lights, the libelants'three-masted schooner L. A. Lewis, eoming:up the coast, was overtaken and rnn into', by the steamer City of Savanfiah, and badly damaged. The night was overcast and dark, but thelttl1losphere was clear, with the wind about W. N. W. Both were heading'nearly for the Scotland lightship,-the City of Savannah directly for it; the SChooner, with her booms to starboard, keeping the light just a little on her port bow. The schooner was therefore slightly crossing to starboard the line of the steamer's course. The steamer's stem struck the stem of the schooner about 20 incpes on the port side of the rudder, and' carried away the schooner's stern quarter. The schooner showed no stem or flash light, and she was not seen by the steamer until tile latter was within a few feet of her. Collision occurred at the moment when the order to stop was given. The libel alleges that the steamer, when first seen, showed her red light only, a little on the schooner's starboard quarter; that the steamer afterwards changed her course so as to show both colored lights, whereupon the master went to the cabill to get a torch.light; but that, before it could bEl procured and shown, collision occurred.· The master was drowned. The evidence is not sufficient to establish any change of course by the The weight of· proof, in that respect, is with the claimants, that there was no change. .' If only the steamer's red light was first visible, the two colored lighUl afterwards came in view, probably, .because the schooner was slightly crossing the line of the steamer's course to star';' board, and by reason leeway ill the strong north-'!Ve&t
,lReported by Edward G.Benedict, Esq., of the New York bar·
The fault of the schooner is clear. ....'he steamer was plainly an vessel. She was more than two points abaft the schooner's beam; being nearly astern on her starboard quarter. The schooner could not know, and had no right to actnpon the guess or assumption, that the steamer was moving off more to leeward. The contrary was the fact; and she was bound to show, even to the red light,ll. white light or a flare-up light, under rule 2. The libelant's evidence shows, however, that the steamer's two colored lights were seen some three or four minutes before collision. It was manifest negligence in the schooner not to have at least a lantern ready to be exhi,bited at once, and not to show it in much less time than three or four minutes. Thepdncipal difficulty in the pase relates to the liability of the steamer, and whether she, also, ought to be held to blame for not seeing the schooner sooner, notwithstanding the abs(jnce of a,ny stern light, and in time to avoid her. The steamer's speed was about 13 knots; the schooner's, according to tlie estimate of her mate, about 2 knots; according to the claimant's estimate, 7 or 8 knots. As all the witnesses agree that there was a good breeze, the wind from one to three points free, and all the schooner's lower courses drawing, I cannot doubt that the schooner was making some 4 or ,,0 knots. The steamer was overtaking the schooner, therefore, at the rate of about 8 or 9 knots per hour, or 800 or 900 feet per minute. Jt iato be obElerved, first, -that ·therelative positions and courses of the two vessels were the easiest possible for avoiding se(lQ/ldpfficer of the steamer says tbat 8 or,10 turns of the wheel, 100 feet away, would pave been sufficient tO"clear her. Not to hold, steamer to fil()narrow aspalle as that, if the schoouer had been seena,nd reported at three times that fect,-the steamer would ,have hag tQ travel,over 450 feet ,before reaching her, w:hich she, would, have done: in about 20 seconds. That was time enough and space,eQoughfor the steamer to sheer a couple of points; and a cpange ofa feet away, would have cleared her easily. Am I just,ified, upon the evidence, in holding th!!t the night was such thllt the schooner could not have seen by a reasonably vigilant lookout 300, or 400, or. even 500 feet distant? On the steamer there was fltseaman aUhe bows; also the second officer pacing the forecastle deck athwartships. and the master standing by the wheel. All claimed that they were keeping a sharp lookout; thllt they all Saw the schooner at same time, when right upon her, and only about .20 or 30 feet distant. The master says he. could see the lookout stationed in the bows, 30 feet distant from the wheel. The schooner was a. large object. The l3urface of hersaiIa, and not merely ,their edges, were presented to view. The mainsail and foresail wel'e' newalld .white. The. second officer says that the loom of a schoooer withollt a'light may sometimes be seen, "on a cloudy without stars, for a mile, Or a mile and a half, when nigqt i,snot too dark. ,) Five nauticaJexperts were cailed by the libelants, Who ,ail-testified that, on a night auph as, the claimants describe this to have been,-overcast, cloudy, and without stars, but with a clear atmosphere) without haze or mist)-sailingvessels would have been seen by
THE CITY OF SAVANNAH.
a good lookout from a quarter of a mile to three-quarters of a mile distant. Opposed to these" no disinterested witnesses were called by the claimant; but only the persons on board the steamer, who are always liable to he more or less swayed by their bias and prepossessions; and they say' that they kept' a good lookout,' and could not see the schooner earlier., The case on their part, however, rests mainly on the testimony of the seaman whO was forward. For the second officer states that he was traversing the deck back and forth, looking out while doing so; but at the moment when he saw the schooner he had just stopped amid-ships, and looked forward and saw her. The court, not having the benefit of 'official nautical experts sitting as associates on the trial of such questions, must rely upon the testimony of persons specially called as expert witnesses, in conjunction with the knowledge derivable from experience and the history of maritime causes. Considering this state of the evidence, the long history of navigation, the laws and usages of·' the sea, the prior adjudications, and that no expert navigators have been called by the claimants to break the force of the testimony of the libelants' experts, I am satisfied that the weight of the proofand probability is with the libelants; that the schooner ought to have been seen in time to avoid her, and, a stricter watch maintained. It was riot until 1858 that the use of a signal light at sea was made obligatory on- sailing vessels. 1 Pars. Shipp. & Adm. 556, note. For centuries before that time; navigation had been carried on without the use of signallightsj and vessels often approached each other in dark nights at a much greater rate of speed, and more dangerously, than these were doing. Collision was ordinarily avoided by a vigilant lookout ahead; and although the carrying of lights, except under special circumstances, was not obligatory until made so by the recent statute and international rules, sailing vessels recovered their full damages against steamers for collision in dark nights, though no lights were exhibited. ,The Rose, 2 W. Rob. 2; The Columbine, ld. 27; The Iron Duke, ld,' 377; The Londonderry, 4 Notes Cas., Adm. & Ecc. Supp. 31. See The Louisiana, 21 How. 1; The Neptune, Olcott, 496; ''1heParkersburgh, 5 Blatchf. 247. In The Otprey, 2 Wall. Jr. 268, the vessels were approaching each other faster than these, a.nd it wasdist;irl'ctly proved. that the bark was no sooner discoverable. In The Sarmatian, 2 Fed. Rep. 911, schooner was a small oyster craft. Only the flat edges ofthe sails were presented to the steamer. There was no cabin light. There was a slight haze over the water; and apparently no point was mad,fil or proof given as to whether the steamer could have perceived the schooner earlier; and the court found she could not. The statuory requirement to show a light was not designed to admit of relaxed vigilance in the lookout; or to justify it; and, though now the vessel not showing the required light must be held in fault, that does not relieve the other vessel, if, under the same circumstances, she would have been held liable,before the statutory rules. ,The Helen Mar, 2 Low. 40-44; The.c'ity of -Merida, 24,Fed', Rep. 233, 234. The distance at which vessels can be seen at night is a matter of frequent testimony in maritime courts. On moonlight nights, sailing vessels without lights are seen two or three
vol. ov.'p.ro.as.t., .. a
derived frOm lilrtld from the trial of thM, gJ¥Y in, hl;\zy weatb.eF ahead, eJ}" pI' distance ofl .At this time, there ,of,the weather. It without 'Pr' stars. Such nights:. a ,clear wopldnpt objects at a ",(:fhe 5 247; The &i.ratoga;S7fed·.Rep. . Tpe testim<?Af,;of the experts, 8\1GI}, ,a.night the 100m ;of ayessel ahead, be, perceived at least a :<J.,u!i,rti&ro,fa: mile distatlt" aq<;:()rds with frequent of a similar effect in other of that was morethan 8ufficient.toepable:the, 'llteamer to :a:V6id this The if npt satisfied vlf, pautical experts, shoulq. , other tp;rebut thltt testimony. I cannot haye disregard it. .The ,had a Jight b,u,rn4Ig in her. cabin; be seen amjle astern, through and. ther,e,was evidence that the cabill:;windows, and had dillta.npe py the in Bchoonel'out;o( ten$ part of ,tance been ell9J;lgh warning to avoid the I must hold the steamer alSo. to blame. ' Decree for the. foroqe4W!.of .' ,. ..
ne ,(litypj lfw York.1,gift'. S,4. ,Whell the ,b!>9. t ,. Ill.oAPo.· ,.0.t . rs,t'b.ey\ . . .. ;only, ,of
LUCKENBACH' etatv·.THE .W
Oourt, E. D. NmJ,Yor1c. Maroh 28;1890.
OoLLDION-VIt88ELS A.T ANOJlOR-FoUL BBRTJI.
The barge W. went in!5ide the Delaware breakwater ina storm, ,and anohored near the barge P. After someho\irs the W. to drag her and fetohed up very near the,P., and in such a position that it was certainthat"she would collide'with the P. t wbentbetide cbanged. It 'Was in :her power to bave changed berposition. She dtd not dd so, and on the turn'of the tide oollided with the P. Beld, that the w. . . , . .
" '. , ."
After the collision, a tug held the W, 'wblle the ancllors the latter were being , . raised. a.nd then towe.d her furtqer. up the, brea.kwal.er.Tbe .Be.rv.·ice OC(lupied five . or six hou!:s·.. The sea was rough, and there was danger, of the W. '8 going ashore. Held, that the service was a salvage aervice, and 1250 a COIUpellSati"n, theretor. . .. , " . ,," ,
In Admiralty.. " . Action' by-the owners of the barge Plymouth and the tug Luckenbaoh. to recover; in,Qoe action, damages to their barge 'Plymouth from collis."!'i'·"
Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New