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February 2, 1950

Petition of LEHIGH VALLEY R. CO. et al. ERIE R. CO.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

The Anchor Line M/V Eucadia while proceeding down the North River from an anchorage near the George Washington Bridge, bound for Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, veered sharply to her left when about opposite Pier 25 and struck the lower corner of Pier 21 N.R., causing damage to the Pier and cargo there being held. This was on September 24, 1946, at about 6:36 A.M. Daylight Time, or 9 minutes before sunrise.

As a result, the lessee of the Pier, Erie Railroad Company, filed a Civil suit in the Southern District on March 6, 1947, against the Anchor Line to recover its damages so occasioned, alleging its liability to the City of New York to make necessary repairs to the Pier. After answer had been filed and the cause was at issue, it appeared that the limitation proceeding (A-18316) had been started in this Court by petition filed March 10, 1947, reciting a collision between the Lehigh Valley tow later to be described, and The Eucadia, immediately preceding the said striking of the Pier, and the threat of claims against the petitioner in connection with these events, and the customary relief was sought. Upon that showing, the Civil cause was transferred to this district by order dated October 14, 1947 'to be tried together' with the limitation proceeding.

 That has been the course followed, and one opinion will dispose of both suits, which will result in a judgment in the Civil case and a decree in the Admiralty cause.

 The controversy has narrowed itself down so as to require decision of but few issues of fact.

 The ship's handling is shown by the testimony of her Master, the pilot who was navigating her, the chief officer who was on the forecastle head, and a cadet stationed there as lookout.

 The Eucadia is a single screw motor vessel of 7250 gross tonnage, 497 feet overall in length, 64.2 feet in beam, and of 28.8 feet moulded depth, H.P. 7000, which give her a high speed at sea of 16 knots.

 On this morning the ship was drawing 21' 5' forward and 23' 5' aft, i.e., she was 'practically light'.

 The physical conditions which prevailed are not in dispute, namely, the tide was first of the flood and in the vicinity of Pier 21 at 6:40 A.M. the movement was of a strength of 0.5 M.P.H.

 The weather was clear, and under conditions of customary autumnal haze, visibility was about one-half mile on the river. Neither wind not sea was sufficient to affect the movements of the vessels involved; all were carrying proper lights which were showing.

 The times will be stated herein according to Daylight Time.

 The ship was proceeding to the east of the center line of the river, which is 3338 feet wide, measured between Pier ends in this vicinity; that is, she was about 1000 feet off the Manhattan Piers from about 23rd Street.

 There was a light collision between the ship and the Lehigh Valley tow about off the slip between Piers 21 and 22, namely, a bow corner of the car-float No. 1205, carrying 8 railroad cars, struck the starboard side of the ship near hatch No. 2, requiring the fairing of 3 side plates.

 That tow was made up at the Lehigh freight yard in Jersey City at 6:00 A.M. as follows: The steamtug Cornell owned by the Lehigh, which is about 100 feet overall, by 25.2 feet in beam, built of wood, and of 700 H.P., took the steel carfloat L.V. 1205, carrying eight railroad cars, in tow on the tug's starboard side. The float is 262 feet overall, and her beam is 37' 7'; there is a center canopy or 'umbrella' between her two tracks each of which held four cars centrally placed. As made up, the bow of the float extended some 150 feet forward of the bow of the tug, and the stern of the latter was some 10 or 12 feet forward of that of the float.

 The make-up of the tow, and the power of the tug are not criticized. Departure from the Lehigh yards for Pier 38 N.R. was had at 6:20 A.M. and the course was diagonal toward the Manhattan side. The tug's Captain says he headed for about Pier 13, and when about 800 or 900 feet off, he turned up river toward his destination.

 It is argued for The Eucadia that the actual course must have been nearer to a direct line to Pier 38, although no direct evidence is offered to that effect. Since the tow was placed by the neutral witness Mitchell (who was then operating a Coast Guard tug) at roughly 600 feet off Pier ends in the vicinity of Piers 15 to 18, it is thought that the tow's ...

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