The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
On March 12, 1943, Drill Boat No. 7 lay about 300 feet off Jackson Street in the East River, held in place by four spuds, and on her offshore side a scow was made fast, loaded with dynamite. At about 10:45 A.M., E.W.T., these vessels were struck by the S.S. Santiago which was descending the East River; the dynamite scow being sunk, and the Drill Boat suffering structural damage.
These causes present the single question of whether the collision was the result of faulty navigation on the part of the S.S. Santiago, or of faulty navigation on the part of U.S.S.D.D. No. 152, which at about 10:42 A.M. crossed the river from the Navy Yard, and was so maneuvered that she crowded the S.S. Santiago and forced her to strike the other two vessels.
In the first cause, the owner of Drill Boat No. 7 and the scow seeks recovery against the S.S. Santiago and the United States of America, alleging fault by each vessel; and in the second cause the owner of the S.S. Santiago seeks recovery from the United States of America for the damages alleged to have been suffered by the steamship. In both causes, relief is sought against the Government under the Public Vessels Act, § 1, 46 U.S.C.A. § 781, in rem and in personam.
1. Ownership and operation of the several vessels involved were stipulated in both causes to be as pleaded, and are so found.
2. Drill Boat No. 7 has a steel hull, and her dimensions are 136 feet by 41 feet by 10-foot sides. She was equipped with four spuds, one on each corner, and four drill frames. The scow was made fast on the lower offshore corner of the Drill Boat, and her dimensions were 12 feet by 4 1/2 feet (depth not given).
3. The width of the river, measured from the end of pier 44 (just below the Drill Boat) to the opposite pier on the Brooklyn side, is about 1,000 feet, and the distance from the outshore side of the Drill Boat No. 7 to an imaginary line drawn from pier A in the Navy Yard to pier J, to establish the entrance to the Yard for present purposes, is but little less.
4. At about 10:45 A.M. on the day in question, there was a flood tide of the agreed strength of 3 knots an hour, which at this time tended to set against the Manhattan shore; there was no effective wind, and visibility was good.
5. The S.S. Santiago is a steel ship, single screw, and her dimensions are 346.1 feet by 49.6 feet by 26 feet, and she was loaded to her full capacity. Her indicated horse power was 750, and full speed upon her engines developed a speed of 7 1/2 knots an hour. She is owned by a Greek corporation and was operating under Panamanian registration.
6. On this day, the S.S. Santiago left City Island, bound for an anchorage in the North River, preparatory to joining an overseas convoy; at Hunt's Point, she picked up the steamtug John T. Timmins, which was made fast on the steamer's starboard side near the bow.
Coming down the East River and passing under the Williamsburg Bridge, the S.S. Santiago was making not to exceed 7 1/2 knots through the water, which was about 4 1/2 knots over the ground.
7. As the Santiago approached Corlears Hook, she was close to the center of the river but favoring the New York shore.
8. The navigation of the Santiago was in charge of William H. Myers, a licensed pilot for these waters for the past thirty years, who began his duties at City Island, from which departure was had at about 7:30 A.M.; the ship's master was not on board; his presence being required at a conference of convoy captains.
9. Myers was on the bridge as was also the chief officer Zolotas and also a helmsman.
10. A boatswain and a sailor were on the forecastle head, tending the anchor, and ready to drop it in the event of emergency. There were also two representatives of the Coast Guard on deck, who did not act as members of the crew. The men on the forecastle head were in a position to act as lookouts.
11. After passing under the Williamsburg Bridge and as Corlears Hook was reached, the Santiago was put under right rudder to make the necessary turn to starboard, and approached Drill Boat No. 7 so as to clear it by about 300 feet, and would have done so, had her course not been changed of necessity, in order to avoid collision with the No. 152, which was headed on a course which would have caused her to come close to or collide with Drill Boat No. 7, had her own helm not been so ordered that she rounded to her port hand directly ahead of the course of the Santiago as it was before the latter veered sharply to the right, causing her to strike the Drill Boat No. 7 and the dynamite scow.
12. The No. 152 is a 4-stack, twin screw destroyer, described as of World War One vintage; her dimensions are 314 feet by 31 feet and draft 12 1/2 feet, and at the time in question she had two boilers in use, and her indicated horse power was 14000. Her standard speed as set for this trip was 15 knots, and two-thirds speed was 10 knots, and one-third speed was 5 knots.
13. She crossed the imaginary line heretofore stated as indicating the entrance to the Navy Yard, at 10:42 A.M., and her quartermaster's record as to engine and rudder movements is as follows:
Full left rudder -- 2 Bls. (Blasts?)
'10.43 All engines ahead Standard -- 2 long blasts
'10.44 2 Blasts. Rudder amidships. 1 long blast
'10.45 All engines stop -- Full left rudder
'10.46 All engines 1/3 ahead. 1 blast