The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
This cause involves a collision between the tank barges Russell 23 and the barge Oil Transfer 23 in the New York State Barge Canal at the Belgium Bridge on November 7, 1940. The former was being pushed by the Diesel tug J. Raymond Russell, and the latter by the steamtug Matton 21.
The Russell 23 was westbound and the Oil Transfer 23 was eastbound, and the libel was filed against the Matton 21.
By reason of the confusing course of the canal in this section, no attempt will be made to refer to the compass points.
The collision occurred at about 5:55 p.m., after darkness had set in, and both tows carried proper lights, and there was no effective wind or other weather condition; the controversy turns solely upon the navigation of the respective tows.
The claimant offered Exhibit D, a profile survey, to establish depths under the bridge, which was made about a year after the collision; for lack of legal evidence that the depths so established obtained on November 7, 1940, the exhibit is deemed in evidence solely to establish the distance between the red and white beacons on the bridge, which indicated the width of the channel under the bridge, namely, 120 feet.
The respective port bow corners of the barges were in contact; that is, the westbound Russell 23 struck the eastbound Oil Transfer 23 about 1 1/2 feet inside the port bow corner of the latter. This means that clearance was avoided by a matter of only 2 feet or so, and that more careful navigation would seem to have been possible on the part of both tugs.
It will be convenient to follow the course of each tow as the testimony is understood.
The Russell 23 is a steel barge, 229.5 feet long and 42.8 feet in beam, having a depth of hold of 14 feet 1 inch.
The Diesel tug J. Raymond Russell is 78.5 feet long, and 22 feet in beam, and has a depth of hold of 9.8 feet, and 525 horse power.
Thus the westbound tow was about 309 feet long (probably slightly less, since the bow of the tug fitted into the stern of the barge, which was constructed for push boat towing). The tug drew 11 feet aft, which was the greatest depth of that tow.
The steel barge Oil Transfer 23 is 212.1 feet long and 36.1 feet in beam, and has a depth of hold of 12.1 feet.
The Matton 21 is 70.6 feet between perpendiculars and has a beam of 20.2 feet, a depth of hold of 9 feet, and 150 horse power.
Thus the eastbound tow was about 282 feet long and required about the same depth of water for safe navigation as the Russell tow. There is no ...