74 FEDERAL REPORTER.
follows: "In narrow channels every steam vessel shall, when it is safe and practicable, keep to that side of the fair way or midchannel which lies on the starboard side of such vessel." The statutes of California contain a similar provision, to which reference was made in the opinion of the district judge. This rule was v" olated by the Oceanic in entering the Golden Gate on the occasion of the disaster involved in these suits, and the only excuse offered for taking the north side is that it is" customary for large vessels in entering to take the north side. We cannot find in the testimony or argument of counsel any attempt to give a reason for the alleged custom, and, if it be true that there is such a custom, it is bad in principle, and contrary to law, and the courts will not recognize it as affording any ground for exempting a vessel from liabilities incurred by disregarding the law. The Victory, 15 C. C. A. 490, 68 Fed. 395; The Britannia, 153 U. S. 130, 14 Sup. Ct. 795. The decrees Oi the district court are affirmed, and the causes remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.
THE ALENE. HALL v. THE ALENE.
(District. Court, S. D. New York. April 27, 1896.)
COLLISION-STEAM AND SAIL-FOG-SCIIOONER'S CHANGE OF COURSE-CONFLICT EVIDENCE-POSSIBLE POWER.
'l'he schooner II., close-hauled, heading about N. by iV. on her smrboard tack, and bound for New York, came in collision off Cape Henry with the steamship A., heading south. There was moderate fog. The steamer, hearing the schooner's fog horn apparently broadening off on her port bow, ported. SOon after the schooner came in sight, when apparently about 1,[)00 feet dismnt, and she was scen to be cros,sing ahead of the steamcr's course, whereupon the steamer's helm was put hard-a-starboard, and so continued until collision. The steamer slowed and reversed; shc claimed that thc schooner when from 500 to 800 feet diS'tant luffed so as to bring her port side against the steamer's memo 'l'he schooncr contended that there was no change in her course. Both agreed that the angle of (-allision was from 5 to 8 poInts: Held (1) upon an analysis of the navigation, that from the admitted bearings of the vessels when first seen, a:nd the angle of collision, there must have been a change Of course as contended by the steamer; (2) that the collision would have been avoided but for this change of course; (3) that the steamer reversed as soon as this change was apparent, and was without fault, some unverified estimates of her stopping power being discredited.
In Admiralty-Collision. Wilcox, Adams & Green, for libellants. Wheeler & Cortis, for claimants. BROWN, District Judge. The above libel was filed by the owners of the three-masted schooner John W. Hall, against the steamship Alene to recover the damages for the loss of the schooner through a collision with the Alene at about 2 p. lll.. of :May 5, 1895, at sea about 140 miles west of Cape Henry. The schooner sank a few minutes after the collision and became a total loss.
The steamer was an iron screw propeller about 320 feet long, bound from New York for the West Indies, and until a few moments before the collision was upon a course heading south. The schooner was bound for New York, and was sailing close-hauled on the starboard tack, with the wind from the northeast, and heading about north by west. There was some fog during the half hour before collision, and the steamer sounded her fog whistles regularly. On hearing these whistles the schooner gave a fog signal of a single blast, indicating under the international rules, that she was on the starboard tack. Her whistle was heard and located by those on the steamer as a little upon their port bow. A second signal, heard afterwards, seemed somewhat broader off the port bow, and thereupon the master who had just come upon the bridge ordered the helm of the steamer to be ported. Very soon afterwards, and as it is claimed before the port wheel had turned the steamer's head to starboard, the schooner came in sight, apparently about 1,500 feet distant, and from half a point to a point on the steamer's port bow, and she was seen to be on the starboard tack, crossing the steamer's course. 'fhe helm was immediately ordered and put hard-a-starboard, the steamer's bow swung to port, and she would have passed well clear of the schooner to the eastward, as her officers claim, had not the schooner when from 500 to 800 feet distant luffed, on seeing which, the steamer reversed full speed, but too late to avoid running into her port side. The two vessels came together, as all agree, at a very considerable angle, viz., from 5 to 8 points between their bows. The steamer's bow ran about talf way through the schooner, held her fast for a few minutes, after which the schooner dropped away and sank. Her crew was saved. The full speed of the steamer was 12 knots, but under reduced steam, according to her officers' testimony, she was making only about 9 knots per hour until the fog signal of the schooner was heard, when she was put at half speed, bringing her speed down to 5 or 5t knots, until her engines were reversed, probably about a minute and a half before collision. The men on board the schooner strenuously deny any change of course, and aver that the steamer, when first seen, was about a point on the schooner's starboard bow and heading for the schooner's starboard bow; that she then seemed to change her courfJe somewhat to the westward across the schooner's course; but that all at once she seemed to whirl around to port and head directly for the schooner and kept so until collision. The wind was light from the northeast, and according to the schooner's testimony, she was sailing about north by west, and making only about 2 knots an hour. rrhe chief issue in the case is whether the schooner did or did not change her course. Upon this issue I am obliged to find in the steamer's favor. All the witnesses agree that the angle of collision between the bows was from 5 to 8 points. Assuming this angle to be but 6 points, it would be impossible to bring these vessels into collision at any such angle from the positions in which both sides place these vessels, without a luff of several points by the schooner. The positions which the witnesses from the two vessels assign to each
otber wbenfirst seen, and tbeir beadings, are almost identical. The steamer, being about a point on the schooner's starboard bow, while the schooner was headihgabout north by west, must have been in a position almost due north from the schooner. The steamer was heading due .south. She would be pointing, therefore, for the schooner's bow, as the latter alleges, and the schooner's starboard side would be visible to the steamer as the latter asserts. It is probable that the steamer would be seen from the schooner somewhat before the schooner could be seen from the steamer. '1'he change of the steamer's heading somewhat to the westward is such as would naturally be produced by the steamer's port wheel, before the schooner became visible to the steamer. The steamer's witnesses, indeed, say she could not have changed her heading under this port wheel. But as a change by the steamer was observed sufficient to lead the mate of the schooner to call out: "She has cleared us; it is all right, sir; he sees us and is keeping away," I think some change was in fact made under this port wheel, and was the oue referred to by the mate. But the moment the schooner came in view, and her starboard tack was observed, the steamer's wheel was put hard-a-starboard and was so kept until collision. On drawing a plot of the navigation of the vessels backwards from the time of collision, if their bows are placed in collision at an angle of 6 points, with the schooner heading north by west as the schooner's witnesses contend, it will be seen that the steamer at collision must have been heading east by south; and, supposing her to have made one point to the westward under her port helm, it is evident that if the schooner kept her course the steamer must have swung 8 points to port to make an angle of 6 points with the schooner at collision after starboarding her helm. But if the curve of her course in making a change of 8 points be drawn upon any practicable radius, whether that radius be 500 feet, as Oaptain Sampson thought was possible for the Adirondack (though I wholly discredit this opinion), or whether the radius be taken at the more probable length of 1,000 feet, which is much more nearly in accord with authenticated observations on similar vessels (White, Nav. Arch. 630, 637; The Lepanto, 21 Fed. 664; The Aurania, 29 Fed. 122, note; The Normandie, 43 Fed. 159, note), it will be seen that the position of the steamer when she starboarded her helm must have been from 300 to 750 feet clear to the westward of the line of the schooner's course: that the schooner must have been at that time about 3 points off the steamer's port bow, while the steamer would be at least a point off the schooner's port bow, and altogether clear of her. Such a relative situation of the vessels is not only totally different from the situation sworn to by both, but it would be a situation calling for no maneuvers whatsoever, since the vessels would be plainly clear of each other, and the alleged maneuvers of the steamer would be incredible·. So, on the other hand, if the vessels be placed in the relative posi· tions testified to when first seen, i. e., the steamer ata point representing about 1,500 feet due north from the schooner, and heading south by west (allowing a change of one point under her port wheel), while the schooner is heading north by west, and the curve of the