The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
The libellant's tanker Colonial Beacon, southbound, entering the East River from Hell Gate on the early morning of February 13, 1943, was struck on her port side near the bow by respondents' town, bound north, for 91st Street, Manhattan. Such damage as was sustained by the tanker is responsible for this litigation. No survey was held, which supports an inference that the cause is not of major dimensions.
1. Ownership, operation and control were as pleaded.
2. Shortly before 2:15 A.M. on February 13, 1943, the tanker Colonial Beacon, in ballast, passed Mill Rock on a course as indicated on Libellant's Exhibit 1, which would take her into and through the westerly channel between Blackwell's Island and the Manhattan shore, on a voyage from Portland, Maine, to Bayonne, New Jersey.
3. When the Mill Rock was almost abeam to starboard, she sighted two tows headed northerly in the said westerly channel of Blackwell's Island, in line, the second one about 500 feet astern of the first.
4. The tanker was proceeding at half speed, 4 1/2 knots, against a flood tide of about 3 1/2 miles' strength as it moved up the East River.
5. The tanker blew a one-blast signal to the first tow, which was answered, and a port passing was effected off Mill Rock, with ample clearance.
6. The second tow was the one involved in this case; it consisted of the steamtug McGuirl (76 feet by 23 feet, 400 horsepower) with two loaded Sanitation scows (150 feet by 37 feet) made up alongside, the No. 1 to port, and the No. 7 to starboard. The stern of the tug and the aft ends of the scows were about in line, and the forward inside corners of the latter were held together (i.e., 5 feet apart) by lines. The No. 7 was being towed stern first, and the No. 1 bow first.
7. The night was clear, visibility good, and such wind as prevailed had no effect upon the navigation of the tanker or the McGuirl tow.
8. The speed at which the tow was moving is not the subject of testimony but is assumed to have been not less than 6 miles over the ground.
9. When the tow was in the vicinity of 86th Street, the tug blew one long blast, intending it as a bend whistle, to signify the purpose of rounding Horns Hook to the port.
10. At the time of blowing that whistle, the tug had sighted the tanker, which showed its red light and was between Hog's Back and Mill Rock.
11. The tanker answered this signal with one short blast.
Comment' This Finding is based on conflicting testimony of the respondents' witnesses, but the version of the tug's Captain Gurney (p. 111) is accepted in preference to that of her deckhand Duffy, and Yolango who was on the scow No. 7 Joyce, for the tanker, ...