The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
At about 7:30 p.m. on March 30, 1931, the libelant's car float P.R.R. No. 556 came into contact with the stem of the steamship Argosy, in the East River, about under the Brooklyn Bridge, some 400 feet off the Brooklyn shore.
The Argosy was headed up stream, inclining to the Brooklyn shore, and was held by her port anchor which had been dropped in order to stop her way, in an effort to avoid the collision.
The car float was outside of a like craft, both in tow alongside to starboard of the Pennsylvania tug Elmira; the tow was headed down stream, having left Wallabout shortly after 7:00 o'clock, bound for Jersey City.
The fact of contact is the only clearly established element in the case. Each navigating officer blames the other for the collision, and their narratives are not to be reconciled.
In a measure, it is thought that each side has presented truthfully a point of view which was necessarily circumscribed.
The night was clear, but dark; a light northwest wind was blowing, and the ebb tide had been running for about half an hour, of a force of 6/10 of a mile hour.
The car floats were about 240 feet long, 40 feet in beam, and each carried 10 freight cars, 5 on each track, which apparently were loaded because the floatman was inspecting seals at the time involved.
The Elmira is a Diesel tug, electric drive, 104.6 feet long with a 24-foot beam. Her stern was about flush with that of the floats; hence they projected nearly 140 feet forward of her stem, to starboard.
The tow proceeded down the East River, and, somewhat below the Manhattan Bridge, passed an up-bound tow, port to port, after exchange of one-whistle signals. The Elmira is said to have been about 500 feet off the Brooklyn shore in this vicinity. If she was running parallel to the shores of the river, her heading was a trifle south of west, and a prolongation of her assumed course would cause her to fetch up on the pier at the foot of Fulton street, Manhattan.
Immediately after passing the tow referred to, the Elmira observed the Argosy bound up stream.The position of the latter at that point of time is the subject of dispute, but the probabilities point to her being nearer to the Brooklyn shore than otherwise, and about opposite Fulton street, Manhattan. The East River statute would so require, and the practice of tugs having tows was to so incline on the prevailing tide. The Argosy was being piloted by Dougherty, master of a McAllister tug which was alongside but not made fast to or assisting the Argosy, and the latter was proceeding at about 4 knots under her own power.
The Argosy is a single screw turbine steamer, 390 feet long, 54.2 feet beam, having a depth of side of 27.8 feet, and a draft of 17 feet aft and 12 feet forward at this time, being part laden; she had left Edgewater, N.J., bound for the pier at East 18th street, Manhattan.
The finding, as to the position in the stream of the Argosy when sighted by the Elmira, is based in part upon the testimony of the claimant's witnesses, and in part upon the fact that a person standing in the pilot house of the Elmira, when she was in the course indicated, would have a view of the starboard side of the Argosy, rather than the extent of the river on her port side, and might ...