The opinion of the court was delivered by: INCH
About half past 2 in the afternoon of February 16, 1935, the tug Allentown ran into the starboard side of the barge Nimrod, which was being towed, bow first, alongside of the tug Mary T. Tracy, made fast on the starboard side of the tug. This collision occurred in the North River at the time when the tide was strong ebb; slight wind northwest; visibility good.
The result of the collision was that the barge Nimrod was cut in two so that her forward end sank almost at once. The remainder of the barge remained afloat a short while, due to the parting of the lines, and then sank but a short distance away.
From this accident three suits have arisen. Two of them by the master of the barge and his wife, who were on the barge at the time of the collision, the latter claiming to have been severely injured by reason thereof, the former claiming to have been injured by the loss of his wife's services, and both having lost all their effects as they lived upon the barge.
The third suit is by the owner of the barge which was seaworthy prior to the collision, and, so far as I can see, in no way to blame for the occurrence.
These three suits, by due stipulation, were tried together and one decision will suffice.
It is plain that the libelants are entitled to recover. The controversy is, as to which of the tugs was responsible or whether a decree should run against both.
A brief statement of the facts leading up to and surrounding this accident is as follows:
The tug Tracy shortly before the collision had left Pier 1, North River (New York side), bound for Pier 18 of the Central Railroad of New Jersey (Jersey side). at that time she had alongside her starboard side the coal barge Nimrod, lightly loaded. The bargee, Ira Dover, and his wife, Mary, lived on this barge and were aboard at the time.
The tug Tracy is 98 feet long, 27 feet wide, and drew about 15 feet. The barge Nimrod was 116 feet long, and was strapped to the starboard side of the tug, bow first. She had on board about 325 tons of soft coal.
There was no difficulty about either tug seeing the other. As the tide was strong ebb in the river, the master of the Tracy, as she proceeded across, held up against the tide and was about headed for Pier 6, Jersey City. He observed the tug Allentown, about 1,500 feet away, heading for the New York shore.
The Allentown was traveling light and is one of the large tugs operating in the river. She had a balanced rudder, operated by steam. At the time when the master of the Tracy first saw the Allentown, the latter was about 200 feet off the Jersey shore approaching on a parallel course. If this course had been kept, the two vessels would have passed about 200 feet apart starboard to starboard.
Accordingly, the matter of the Tracy blew a two-whistle signal, but this was followed by an alarm when he observed that the Allentown had changed her course and might possibly collide with the Tracy. The master of the Tracy also by starboarding his wheel and, just before the collision, he hard aproted his wheel in an effort to swing the stern of his barge so that it might escape the collision. However, this maneuver was unsuccessful, and the Allentown struck the barge at about a 45 degree angle, about 30 feet from her stern, with the result that the barge was cut in two.
I locate the place of the accident as approximately where the witnesses for the Tracy say it occurred. This would make the collision take place ...