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THE JOHN J. TUCKER

March 22, 1947

THE JOHN J. TUCKER. THE SOCONY NO. 9. THE SOCONY III


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

A collision occurred in the Arthur Kill between the wooden Diesel tug John J. Tucker and the barge Socony 111 about 200 feet northeast of Buoy No. 4 at about 11:55 P.M. on the night of December 18, 1944, which gave rise to these two causes.

In the first, the owner of the tug seeks to recover for its damages; and in the second, the owner of the barge seeks redress from the tug.

 The steel barge Socony 111 was in tow of the steam-tug Socony 9, being made fast, bow foremost, on the tug's starboard side; the sterns were flush and the barge extended about 150 feet forward of the tug's bow.

 The dimensions of these vessels are: As to the tug, 100 feet by 24.1 feet with 12.3 foot depth of sides, and indicated horse power of 850; and as to the barge, which had a shovel-nosed bow, 251.5 feet by 40.1 feet with 12.7 foot depth of sides.

 The barge was carrying 4,000 barrels of gasoline in bulk in tanks 5 and 6, and as laden, her draft was from 7 to 8 feet aft, and she was light at the bow, namely, her bow rode as high as though she were light.

 After leaving the Shell Oil Dock, the tow straightened away to proceed northerly in the Arthur Kill, being bound for Bayway, New Jersey.

 The dimensions of the Diesel tug Tucker are 80.3 feet at water-line, 90 feet overall, by 20.1 feet, with a depth of 10.3 feet and indicated horse power of 450.

 She had alongside to her own port the steel barge L.T.C. No. 7, which was light, and the dimensions of which are 200.5 feet by 38.2 feet with 12.9 foot sides; the bow of the barge extended from 113 feet to 115 feet ahead of the stem of the tug. That tow was bound down the Kill to Sewaren, New Jersey.

 It was agreed that the tide was the end of flood, that is to say, nearly slack, but if there was any movement, it was up the Kill; that weather conditions did not affect visibility, which was good for about two miles; there was no moon; the sky was overcast, and the wind blew out of the northeast, of a force of about 30 miles.

 It was also agreed that both tugs and barges carried proper lights, which were showing.

 For the Tucker, the testimony is that the tow was proceeding at about the Staten Island edge of the channel, which means that it was at all times on the wrong side of the channel, including the point of collision. The Tucker was guilty of other faults, and nothing is urged for her, save that this is a half damage case.

 Against the Socony 9, it is urged that her failure to blow an alarm is the only subject which requires attention, and the causes will proceed to decision on that understanding, although the fault is not pleaded either in the libel in the first cause or in the answer of the second.

 The chart in evidence discloses that from a point about 1300 feet north of the Shell Oil Dock the channel begins a gradual curve to the right, ending off Port Reading, of approximately 90 degrees. It became necessary for the Socony tow to begin to incline to her starboard hand or toward the Staten Island shore, when about off Buoy 6 (No. 6 Tucker Ex. 1), in order to round Buoy No. 4 and continue in the channel according to the course of the Kill.

 The narratives of Captains Frantz of the Socony 9 and Colligan of the Tucker are not wholly inconsistent one with the other, except as to the position of the Tucker and her tow when she was first observed from the Socony 9 when the latter was near Lightbuoy No. 6, and that is an important element in the situation. Frantz says that the Tucker at that time was a little to the easterly of Lightbuoy No. 7 (No. 7 Tucker Ex. 1), and not only on her own side of the channel but actually closer to the New Jersey shore than circumstances would seem to warrant. Since the Tucker's barge was light and the tug herself did not draw more than 9 feet, there was sufficient depth outside the channel to admit of the presence of this tow where Frantz placed it. Due to the Tucker's heading, of course she showed only her red light to Frantz at the time of which he speaks; he says that ...


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