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THE FREDERICK H

June 1, 1933

THE FREDERICK H; THE CATAWISSA; THE MT. AIRY


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CAMPBELL

CAMPBELL, District Judge.

This suit is brought by the libelant, the owner of the schooner Frederick H, against the steam tug Catawissa and the barge Mt. Airy, for damages alleged to have been caused by collision.

I find the facts as follows:

 At all the times hereinafter mentioned, the libelant was the owner of the three-masted schooner Frederick H, which was a vessel of 466 tons' gross and 396 tons' net register, or thereabout, with its home port at Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

 At all the times hereinafter mentioned, the tug Catawissa was an American vessel engaged in the coastwise towing service, with registered dimensions of 558 tons' gross, 352 tons' net, length 158 feet, beam 29 feet, depth 18 feet, with Philadelphia as its home port.

 At all the times hereinafter mentioned, the barge Mt. Airy was an American vessel, engaged in coastwise commercial service.

 The steam tug Catawissa and barge Mt. Airy were, during the pendency of process hereunder, within the port of New York and within the jurisdiction of this court.

 On January 8, 1932, at about 10:30 o'clock a.m., the schooner Frederick H, loaded with a cargo of piling, left Gloucester, Mass., bound for New York.

 In the afternoon of that day, the wind became very light and variable, and by midnight died out altogether. During the night and until after the happening of the collision hereinafter mentioned, the wind continued out of the north, a little to the west, to be too light to continually maintain steerageway on the schooner, and there were flurries of snow.

 The weather being unfavorable, and as it looked like heavy winds and storm at 4 o'clock p.m. on January 8, 1932, the Frederick H, then being about 14 miles from Gloucester, started back to make Gloucester harbor again.

 About 5:30 o'clock a.m. on January 9, 1932, the tug Catawissa, with the barges Hutchinson, Mt. Airy, Pickering, and Ontelaunee in tow in the order named, left the Gloucester Anchorage bound for New York. After getting under way, the hawsers were let go so that the first barge was on two hawsers of about 200 fathoms each from the tug, and the succeeding barges were on hawsers of about 200 fathoms each from the barge ahead, and the tug proceeded at full speed. At the time the tug got under way at Gloucester, the wind was light from the northwest and the weather clear. At approximately 6 o'clock a.m. on January 9, 1932, just as the day was breaking and the schooner Frederick H was little more than drifiting, with her regulation lights burning and with an efficient lookout forward, the lookout reported and those on board observed off to port the green light and masthead lights of an approaching vessel, which later proved to be the tug Catawissa with four barges in tow. The lights appeared to be over a mile away.

 The tug and tow appeared to be coming directly toward the schooner and continued to approach, without apparent change of course until a collision seemed imminent, when the tug sounded for the barges in its tow the warning signal, followed by a two-blast signal to starboard helm, indicating a change of course to port, and the tug and barges directed their course to port; the tug crossing the schooner's bow very close to her and continued on its way, drawing its tow across the bow of the schooner. As the Catawissa was crossing the bow of the Frederick H, the mate of the Frederick H ordered the man at the wheel to roll his wheel down hard and ordered the other jib to be let go.

 The first barge, the Hutchinson, which was loaded, passed clear, but the second barge, the Mt. Airy, which was light, at about 6:15 o'clock a.m., came into collision with the bow of the schooner Frederick H, carrying away and damaging its bow sprit, jibboom, and head gear, and slightly damaging the Mt. Airy.

 The tug Catawissa was showing the regulation lights, as were the barges in her tow. The chief mate of the Catawiss a was at the wheel until he sounded the warning signal and the two-blast signal, after which the master took charge. A man was stationed forward on the Catawissa as a lookout, but did not report the Frederick H, which was first observed by the mate and was not observed by the lookout until the mate had given the said whistle signals.

 The Catawissa did not maintain an efficient lookout.

 The Frederick H and the Catawissa were on crossing courses, and the Catawissa had the Frederick H on ...


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