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ANGLO-SAXON PETROLEUM CO. v. UNITED STATES

November 5, 1951

ANGLO-SAXON PETROLEUM CO., Limited of London, England
v.
UNITED STATES (two cases). UNITED STATES v. THE GOLDSHELL. THE WHITE PLAINS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONGER

There are three actions being tried here. In two, The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., Ltd. is the libellant and the United States of America is the respondent. In the other, the United States of America is the libellant and The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., Ltd. is the respondent.

One of the suits filed by The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., Ltd. was brought pursuant to the provision of the Suits in Admiralty Act of 1920, 46 U.S.C.A. § 741 et seq.; the other pursuant to the Public Vessels Act of 1925, 46 U.S.C.A. § 781 et seq.

 It was stipulated by counsel for the Government that the S.S. White Plains at the time of the collision was a merchant vessel of the United States and sueable under the 'Suits in Admiralty Act.' In view of that admission, the suit under the 'Public Vessles Act' was abandoned and the trial proceeded on the original suit filed under the 'Suits in Admiralty Act.'

 The suit commenced by libellant The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co., Ltd. under the 'Public Vessels Act' is dismissed without costs.

 The remaining two actions were consolidated for all purposes.

 It was further stipulated that the ownership of the respective vessels is as alleged in the pleadings and that both vessels sustained damage as a result of the collision.

 Each libellant in the two remaining suits is asking damages for the injury to its vessel occurring because of a collision between the two vessels.

 The vessels involved are the Goldshell owned and operated by Anglo-Saxon and the White Plains owned and operated by the U.S.A.

 These two vessels collided in the Hudson River approximately abreast of Pier 22 in the early morning of December 10, 1942. The Goldshell was coming in front the sea, proceeding northerly up the Hudson River, intending to anchor near Yonkers.

 The White Plains was proceeding out to sea and down the Hudson River. She had been lying at Pier 62, north of the place of the collision, and was undocked with the assistance of tugs, somewhere in the river and swung around bearing south and proceeded down the river.

 Both vessels collided somewhere in the river about opposite Chambers Street, New York City. The stem of the White Plains came in contact with the port bow of the Goldshell where the hawse pipe is located.

 Both vessels were in the ballast. The Goldshell, a twin-motored diesel vessel, was 457.2 feet long and 62.1 feet beam and 34.1 in depth. The White Plains, a turbo-electric driven ship, was 523 feet long, 68 feet beam and 39.3 in depth. Each vessel at the time of the collision was in charge of and being piloted by a licensed Sandy Hook Pilot.

 To fix the responsibility for the collision the Court is faced, as is quite common in these cases, with conflicting testimony which may not be reconciled. Much of this conflicting testimony is found in depositions so that the Court did not have the advantage of seeing these witnesses and evaluating their testimony by the usual tests.

 The most important fact to be determined is just where in the river did this collision occur. Here, one finds a wide variance. If full credit be given to the story as related by each side, the collision could not have occurred. The vessels would have been too far apart. The Court then has to pick out various pieces of testimony which it believes to be true, reasonable and probable and fit them together. This, I have done in this case in order to arrive at what I believe to be the correct answer, and I have come to the conclusion that those in charge of the ...


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