The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
The petitioner seeks limitation of and exoneration from a claim for damages occasioned by the striking of its derrick lighter Trenton against the Steeplechase pier at Coney Island on the night of December 19, 1936.
The vessel is 102 feet long and 33.5 feet in beam, and has a depth of 7.5 feet. Her displacement tonnage is 300; she is without power, and carries hoisting machinery with gear and engines.
She was moored to three anchors as follows: A stern anchor of 3 1/2 tons, out about 1,000 feet from the jetty, and port and starboard anchors of from 1 to 1 1/2 tons; they were lashed to a buoy by 3/4 inch steel hawsers called straps, and the anchor lines on board the vessel were 7 and 6 inch hawsers, respectively, made fast to the anchor straps. It is not disputed that all the manila hawsers were new, good lines. The anchor buoys held up the straps and thus there was no chafing of the manila lines on the bottom.
The Trenton moved in and out on her stern anchor line, made fast to stone scows which were carrying stones for several jetties on Coney Island beach. The derrick and a scow came alongside the jetty and then the derrick discharged the stones to the jetty from the scow by the use of a derrick arm and chain slings.
The work had been going forward for a matter of two months or so in this way, and the stone scows were taken to and from the job by tugs which could not approach nearer than 500 feet from the beach because of their draft. When the cargo of a scow had been discharged, the derrick moved it out, using her stern anchor line under her own engine power, and at about 500 feet off shore the scow would be taken in tow by an O'Brien Brothers tug.
The work was prosecuted as the weather permitted, and it was customary to knock off at between five and six o'clock in the afternoon of weekdays except Saturdays when the quitting hour was 4:30 P.M.If conditions permitted, the work was carried forward on Sundays.
On the evening of December 18th, the Weather Bureau issued a storm warning by radio at 9:41 P.M.:
"Advisory 10 P.M.: Northeast storm warnings ordered 10 P.M. from Delaware Breakwater to Cape Hatteras, N.C. increasing northeast to east winds becoming strong with rain Saturday."
The City deems that warning important, in spite of its application to a territory not presently involved.
At 9:30 A.M. on the morning of Saturday, December 19th, the following storm warning was issued by the local Weather Bureau:
"Hoist northeast storm warnings 9:30 A.M. north of Delaware Breakwater to Boston, Mass. Disturbance over southeastern states will probably develop and move northeastward accompanied by strong northeast winds and gales with rain or snow."
Knowledge of that warning is brought home to the petitioner.
The shore line of Coney Island runs about east and west and forms a lee for vessels as against ...