The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDELSTEIN
The above-entitled action having come on to be tried before me on February 16, 17, 18, 21 and 23, 1955. I find from all the evidence and pleadings that:
1. On October 15, 1953, at approximately 8:00 a.m., the libelant, as a longshoreman employee of Connecticut Terminal Company, Inc., an impleaded respondent herein, boarded the vessel Annitsa, then moored starboard side to the State Pier in New London, Connecticut, for the purpose of discharging lumber cargo.
2. The Annitsa was then and there owned and operated by the respondent Tramp Chartering Corp., on whose behalf its time charterer Canadian Transport Co., Ltd., an impleaded respondent herein, contracted for the stevedoring services of Connecticut Terminal Company, Inc.
3. The vessel was laden with a cargo of 5,837,380 FBM (feet board measure) of dressed lumber, of varying lengths. On deck the lumber was stowed to a height of about nine to ten feet, running in a fore and aft direction, and at and about Number 5 hatch, whereat libelant worked, the deck cargo covered virtually the entire deck space and all the permanent ship's fittings for rigging booms, except that a certain cleat about eight feet aft of the Number 5 winches, on the port side, was left uncovered in a space measuring about one foot square.
4. Before the longshoremen boarded the Annitsa, the two 5 ton wooden booms, had been raised by the ship's crew and secured by regular guys, consisting in part of manila rope and in part of wire cable. The manila rope was black, old and rotten, and ran continuously three or four times through two blocks, with the lower block attached at the deck level.
5. Shortly after boarding the vessel, the hatch foreman Barry supervised the rigging of a preventer guy, which resembled an old winch runner, to the exposed cleat referred to above. This was for the purpose of supplementing the regular guy of the port or offshore boom, which was used as the up and down boom in the unloading operation at Number 5 hatch. As there was no space to work on the deck, in order to secure this preventer guy, two longshoremen, Reidy and Peret, had to and did place themselves outside the rail, each holding on to hand hooks dug into the lumber. As Reidy fed the preventer guy to Peret, the latter wound the cable in a figure eight manner about the wings of the cleat. The first turn was made about the aft wing of the cleat, then to Peret's right as he faced the vessel from his offshore position. The preventer guy was about 3/4 inch in diameter, and the cleat was of forged steel, having two wings, each wing about eight inches long and parallel to the deck as well as to the side of the vessel.
6. The port offshore boom was spotted so that a plumb line from the top would go down to about the middle of the hatch coaming on the port side. The starboard inshore boom, intended as the Burton or drag boom, was spotted over the dock onto which drafts of lumber were to be placed.
7. At Number 5 hatch there were 4 teams, two men to a team, directed to make up drafts of lumber from the deck cargo. The chains on both sides of the deck cargo, affixed to padeyes on the deck, were joined by turnbuckles on top which the longshoremen loosened prior to making up their drafts. Each draft of lumber consisted of wooden boards, approximately 30 inches in height, 48 inches in width, and varying in length, the average length being 14 feet. Libelant and his partner were stationed in the starboard-aft section of the hatch. The other teams were in the starboard-forward, port-forward and port-aft sections, all making up drafts of lumber, removed in regular sequence by attaching a cargo hook to wire slings about the drafts.
8. The falls of both booms were 'married' or joined, and after the up and down boom on the port side lifted a particular draft to a height sufficient to clear the other drafts, the winchman of the Burton or drag boom on the starboard side would on signal take a strain and bring the draft over to the inshore side to be lowered to the dock. At the time of this latter maneuver, most of the strain was on the drag boom, with a slight strain on the up and down boom.
9. At the time of the accident involved herein, which occurred at about 9:45 a.m. on October 15, 1953, the libelant was engaged in making up his draft of lumber on the starboard side of the hatch. A snapping sound was heard, both the regular guy and the preventer guy of the port boom swung toward libelant, one or both struck him and caused him to be flung in the air and come down with considerable force on the left side of his body. The particular operation at the time was the removal of the draft of lumber from the port side of the hatch, which had been raised by the port boom about four feet above the deck cargo, and was then being pulled by the starboard boom at a point about three feet from the dock. The major strain was then on the starboard boom.
10. After the accident it was observed that the forward wing of the cleat to which the port preventer guy had been secured was raised in a position vertical to the deck, and that the manila rope of the regular guy had broken, leaving frayed ends.
11. The breaking point for manila rope fit for its purpose, considering the number of strands then in use, is established to be approximately sixteen to eighteen tons. The weight of the draft at the time of the accident is established to be approximately 2.52 tons. The vessel was originally designed and built so that the regular guy by itself would withstand a stress sufficient to secure the 5 ton boom while maintaining a strain imposed by a weight equivalent to the draft herein.
12. As the padeye near the cleat involved was covered by the deck cargo, the rigging of the preventer guy directly to the cleat by the longshoremen was reasonable and proper under the circumstances, and in conformity with the Maritime Safety Code compiled by the Maritime Association of the Port of New York, wherein the following appears: ...