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July 2, 1954


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MURPHY

These are many libels, consolidated under the above captions for purpose of trial as arising out of the same voyage, for damage, shortage and non-delivery of cargo and personal effects aboard a vessel, that have been tried to the court and the following are made

Findings of Fact

 1. Libelants are owners, or representatives of the owners, of various shipments of cargo and personal effects, carried on the S.S. Shickshinny from the ports of Ras Tanura, Khurramshahr and Basrah, in the Persian Gulf area, to New York in a voyage terminating in New York on April 23, 1946. There are a number of libels (numbered as claims 1 to 65, with some numbers having been withdrawn) asserting various damage, shortage or nondelivery under about 123 bills of lading. Certain of these suits commenced in other districts in accordance with the venue provisions of the Suits in Admiralty Act have been transferred or deemed transferred by agreement to this district.

 2. The goods which are the subject of these actions arrived at the respective ports of shipment by various means of transportation from the interior of Iran and remained in the custody of the shipper until laden aboard on the dates hereinafter mentioned.

 3. Respondents are the Isthmian Steamship Company, berth agent for the carrier, the United States, the South Atlantic Steamship Line, owner of the S.S. Shickshinny, and the United States of America, her bareboat charterer and operator, at all times hereinafter mentioned, the latter being sued pursuant to provisions of the Suits in Admiralty Act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 741 et seq.

 4. The cargo and personal effects which are the subject of this suit consisted principally of rugs, wool and the skins of lambs, goats and sheep. In addition, there were walnuts, and cummin and quince seeds. The principal damage to these items was caused by fresh water. Other damage resulted from salt water, stains of fuel oil and tar, non-delivery of whole packages, short delivery of some, difference of grade or quality in others, and the penetrative and abrasive effect of hook holes and chafing.

 5. The Shickshinny arrived at Khurramshahr at 12:30 A.M. on March 13, 1946, after a voyage from New York, commencing in December, 1945, and terminating with unloading at Ras Tanura. It rained intermittently at Khurramshahr from the time of arrival until March 14. At 7:30 P. M. on March 13, the vessel loaded wet dunnage in all of its five holds. At 8:00 A. M. on March 14, loading of cargo commenced and continued until 9:00 A. M. on March 19. This cargo, loaded from open lighters which had been awaiting the vessel's arrival, was placed in all five holds.

 6. Bills of lading covering 90 shipments from Khurramshahr were issued, 61 for claims numbered 1 through 34, and 29 for claims numbered 36 through 65. Notations on 33 of these bills indicate that the shipments or some designated or undesignated portion of them were wet at the time of receipt. Various other bills indicated that shipments or portions of them were defective in some manner relating to their packaging.

 7. The Shickshinny arrived at Basrah at about 2:00 P.M. on March 19, commenced loading there at 8:30 P.M. and left on March 24, 1946. There was no rain at this port between the times of arrival and departure. Cargo taken aboard from lighters was stowed in the 'tweendecks generally above the Khurramshahr cargo, and also in No. 1 lower hold. None of the 30 shipments loaded at this port was indicated in the bills of lading to be wet, although notations therein refer to various defects in packaging which included old stains.

 8. An additional shipment of five packages of personal effects (claim number 64) had been loaded as part of two shipments at Ras Tanura. No damage was indicated on its bill of lading.

 9. From no port of shipment did any bill of lading specifically indicate damage to cargo at time of its receipt of stains from fuel oil or tar, penetrations from hookholes, abrasions from chafing, or, of course, missing packages in whole or part.

 10. The Shickshinny, having left Basrah on March 24, stopped and opened a single hatch (No. 5) to take on mail at Port Said, then continued her voyage without event until arrival at Quarantine in New York on April 23. Following fumigation in the next few days, the vessel went alongside the pier to discharge its cargo on April 30.

 11. At that time, it was found that there was leakage of oil in the No. 4 'tweendeck which had spilled over the manhole into the lower hold and that there was an elliptical hole, 4" x 2", in a sounding pipe to the No. 4 starboard well at the same level.

 12. Cargo surveys held on Pier No. 4, Staten Island, and elsewhere disclosed damage or non-delivery in connection with goods ...

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