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Harshaw v. Navigazione

March 5, 1934

THE WEST HARSHAW; THE ANSALDO SAN GIORGIO SECONDO; UNITED STATES
v.
SOCIETA NAZIONALE DI NAVIGAZIONE



Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Author: Hand

Before MANTON, SWAN, and AUGUSTUS N. HAND, Circuit Judges.

AUGUSTUS N. HAND, Circuit Judge.

This action was brought against the Italian steamer Ansaldo San Giorgio Secondo by the United States, as owner of the steamship West Harshaw, and by the master, officers, and crew of the latter vessel, for salvage services which the West Harshaw is alleged to have performed on behalf of the Italian steamer after her steering chain was broken in a storm at sea off the east coast of Florida on July 26, 1926. The left chain of the rudder of the Ansaldo broke at about 8 p.m. at a point some eight miles southeast of Hyllsborough Inlet, rendering the ship unmanageable. At the time the ship was caught in a tropical hurricane, and the force of the wind and sea tended to drive her towards the land. Her hand steering gear was broken by the seas, and while, by the alternate use of one or the other of her two propellers, she was able to maintain partial control over her heading, she was in serious danger and considered that such was the case, for, at 10:40 p.m. on July 26, she sent out an S O S. As appears by the log of the Ansaldo, the American steamer Orizaba answered that she was coming, and at 2 o'clock hove in sight and asked the crew of the Italian steamer to abandon ship. They replied in the negative, but requested the Orizaba to keep herself in communication with them. The following are the pertinent entries in the log:

"July 27

"* * * Meanwhile we continued in more desperate attempts to fix the helm, but all exertions were in vain. In the morning the hurricane had reached its greatest force.We are near the center and in the dangerous semicircle. The deck is constantly swept by heavy waves. From this time all orders between the bridge and the engines are impossible.

"With the view to try to diminish the force of the waves, naphtha was pumped overboard and oil sacks used.

"Various steamers nearby have made useless attempts to approach.

"Towards 10 o'clock the wind, at its strongest, turned gradually from N.E. to N-N. W. -- W-S.W. -- the barometer registering the minimum point (735%). We now presented the starboard side and the vessel careened towards N.E.

"The terrible seas had meanwhile smashed the bridge aft, the chain lashings of the deck cargo, wrecking and sinking the other life boats.

"July 27

"The lumber loaded on deck now broken adrift and shifted by the furious waves threatens to stave in hatch #6 and doors at entrance to engine room.

"Our conditions are desperate -- the crew is exhausted.

"The steamers continued trying to approach in vain, also because of ...


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