THE OPHELIA. l
THE MIDDLETOWN. KINNEAR V. STATEN ISI,AND RAPID TRANSIT R. CO.
(District Court, S. D. New York. January 21,1891.)
Where a ferry-boat, in a dense fog, ran into a bark, which was anchored within the prescribed limits of the anchorage ground in the bay of New York, and whose position was well known to the pilot of the ferry-boat, held, that the ferry-boat should have kept off tbe anchora!(e ground entirely, as she could have done. and that the ferry-boat was therefore in fault for the eollision.
SAME-Foo-BELLS-FREQUENCy-INSPECTORS' RULE-LoOKOUT-CHANGE oi' WATCH.
A bark, lying at anchor in a fog so dense that objects could not be distinguished 50 feet distant. and in a position where boats were obliged frequently to pass near her, .rang her fog bells every three or four minutes. Held, that in such situation there was a necessity for more ft'equent bells than are prescribed by the international regulations, which require the bell to be rung only once every five minutes. No whistle was noticed by those on the bark. though the ferry-boat while approaching whistied every half minute. Held. that the bark was also in fault for not ringing the bell as often as required by the inspectors' rules, aud for bad lookout at the time of a change in the watch.
Suit for damages by collision.
Wilcox, Adams &: Macklin, for libelant. Tracy, Macfarland, Ivins, Boardman &: PlaU, for respondent.
BROWN, J. Near midnight of November 6, 1890, while the libelant's bark Ophelia, shortly before arrn-ed from sea, lay at anchor abreast of Bedloe's island, a little within the prescribed limits for anchorage ground, she was run into, in a dense fog, by the respondent's ferry-boat Middletown, bound from the Battery to Staten island, and sustained damages for which the above libel was filed. Without discussing in detail the conflicts of testimony, I find the following faults in both: 1. The precise point where the Ophelia lay being known to the pilot of the ferry-boat, as she had passed her several times in clear weather during the 12 hours preceding, it was the duty of the ferry-boat to have kept further to the eastward, as she might and should have done, the ranges being accurately known, and there being no necessity for the ferry-boat to cross any part of the prescribed anchorage ground, and there being abundant water to the eastward of its exterior limit. The Bedford, 5 Blatchf. 200; The Exchange, 10 Blatchf. 168. 2. The bell upon the Ophelia was not sufficiently rung to answer the requirements of reasonable prudence, and of a reasonable necessity, when she lay anchored in such a fair way in a dense fog. The fog was so dense that objects, exeepting lights, could not be distinguished 50 feet distant; and lights at a very short distance only, probably not exceeding 200 feet. The evidence does not show that at the time the ferr).. -boat
Reported by Edward G. Benedict, Esq., of the New York bar.
was approaching the bark, her bell was sounded oftener than once in four minutes. None was heard on the ferry-boat, though she approached at very moderate speed, and her officers were listening carefully for signals. Such an interval is wholly too great for the necessities of such a situation. Ferry-boats are obliged to make their trips even in the deusestfog. The ebb tide runs from two to three knots at its strength, and it is impossible that ferry-boats retaining necessary control of their movements in such a tide ('hould go less than four or five knots over the ground. Under such circumstances bells sounded once in three or, four minutes only, are too infrequent to be of much use. The frequency with which boats were obliged to pass in this region was known to the bark, or ought to have been known by observation, if not already familiar to her master; and there was therefore obvious necessity for more frequent bells than those prescribed by tLeinternational regulations, namely, at least once in five minutes. The rule of the supervising inspectors (page 182) requires the beHto be sounded at intervals of not more than two minutes. I have no doubt, moreover, that from the ferryboat were sounded, as her witnesses testify, at intervals of less than half a.minute·, The rnle.lastreferred to requires them to be sounded at intervals of not more than one minute. The ferry-boat, at the time of collissian, knew she was about meeting and passing her sister boat coming up from Staten island; yet the witnesses for the bark all testify that they heard no whistles from the Middletown, and consequently no response by the bell was given to! any such signals. The collision occurred at the time of the change of the midnight watch on board the bark. The ship's time was about threeiquarters of an hour in advance of the local time. The'proper watch was very tardy in getting on deck, and the duty of sounding the bell seems to have remained with the second mate; and there is incidental testimony of considerable weight, which, coupled with the delays in the proper change of watch, may serve to explain the iact,of which lam also satisfied, that sufficient attention was not given at the time to the signals of the Middletown as. she was approaching near. The damages and COilts must therefore be divided.
THE SERVIA. I MILES
(D£Strf.ct Court, S. D. New York. January 22,189l.)
As libelant was loading iron in the hold of a steam-ship, a skid, in ascending to the deck, caught under one of the coamings of a hatch, and .the knot in one corner of the skid pulled out, causing the iron on tbe skid to fall upon tbe libelant. The evidence spowed no defect in the skid, or the ropes or the lanyard; that the efficient call1le of the accident was the negligence of the guy-tender or of the engineer, in allowing tbe skid to catch and in not stopping the engine. HeW, that they were fellow-servants with libelant, and that the only obligation of the ship was to see that the instruments used were reasonably sound and fit for the service, and libelant could not charge the ship for the aCCident resulting from the negligence of fellow-servants.
In Admiralty. Suit ior personal injuries. H. H. Shook, for libelant. Owen, Gray & Sturges, for claimant.
BROWN, J. On the 15th of May, 1890, while the libelant was engaged, as longshore-man, in the hold of the dervia, loading Spiegel iron upon skids in the discharge of cargo, the iron upon another skid, going up from the opposite side of the same hatch. fell, and struck him on the hip and back, producing injuries, to recover for whieh the above libel was filed. The uncontradicted evidence is that the skid from which the iron fell in being raised caught under one of the coamings when part way up, and that one of the lanyards that went through the corner of the skid was pulled through the hole in the corner, through the knot by which it was secured beneath being pulled out, in consequence of which that corner of the skid dropped, and the iron slid off. The evidence does not show any defect in the skid, or inthe ropes, or in the lanyards; and the rigger testified to proper preYious inspection, and that the knots were tight and secure, and protected in the same way that was customary, and which has been long in use without any previous accident, and that after the accident he examined the lanyard that was pulled through, and found it in perfect condition, except that the knot was pulled out. The man who tended the falls, and whose business it was to keep the skid as it neared the top away from the coamings, stated that, when he saw that the skid was likely to catch, he rang the signal to stop hoisting, as had been done once before on the same ascent, but that the raising was not stopped quick enough, and that the strain resulted in the accident above stated. It would be mere guess-work upon such facts to hold that the skid or knot by which the iron was raised was either out cf order, or not reasonably fitted for the work, merely because the knot, under such a strain, was pulled out. When the skid was caught fast under the coarnings, and the strain of a powerful engine like this was
Repol'ted by Edw, 'd G. Benedict,
of the New York bar.
continued, something, evidently, must give away. 'r.:e derrick might come down, the ropes part, the falls, the hook, or the skid break, or the knot yield; whichever happened, somebody would be likely to be hurt. The obligation of the ship or owner, in such cases, is not that of a guarantor against all accidents, but only that the instruments used shall be reasonably sound and fit for the service. He does not guaranty that machinery or ropes shall not break or yield, under whatever strain, when misused or carelessly worked. The evidence in this case leaves no doubt of negligence of the guy-tender or engineer in letting the skid catch fast, and in not sooner stopping the engine. That was negligence of a fellow-servant, for which the ship is not liable; and that was the efficient cause of the accident. There is not sufficient proof of negligence on the ship's part back of that, contributing to the injury, so as to make the ship liable. The case is bstantially like that of Stringham v. Hilton, 111 N. Y. 188, 198, 18 N. E. Rep. 870. Libel dismissed.