UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
July 10, 1956
MARINE FUEL TRANSFER CORPORATION as Owner of THE Barge GEORGE K. HAMBLETON, Libelllant,
Tugs GRAMERCY and Justine McAllister, their tackle, etc., Respondents. CONNERS-STANDARD MARINE CORPORATION, as Owner of THE Barge ARTHUR HERRMANN, Libellant, v. THE Tug JUSTINE McALLISTER, her engines, boilers, etc., Claimant-Respondent, and Tug Gramercy, Impleaded
The opinion of the court was delivered by: INCH
These are actions brought to recover damages to the barge, George K. Hambleton, and the barge, Arthur Herrmann, resulting from a collision between them on the New York State Barge Canal, on November 18, 1950, just west of Lock No. 12.
Detailed and specific findings of fact and conclusions of law are being filed herewith.
Settle decrees, in accordance with said findings and conclusions.
Findings of Fact
1. At about 12:05 A.M. on November 18, 1950 a collision occurred on the waters of the New York State Barge Canal between the barge George K. Hambleton owned by Marine Fuel Transfer Corporation and the barge Arthur Herrmann owned by Conners-Standard Marine Corporation.
2. At said time the barge George K. Hambleton was being pushboated by the tug Justine McAllister eastbound in ballast bound for Lock No. 12; the barge Arthur Herrmann loaded with a cargo was being pushboated by the tug Gramercy proceeding westerly and had just left Lock No. 12.
3. Lock No. 12 is situated at Tribes Hill, New York. The lock chamber which is 45 feet wide is located on the extreme northerly side of the channel. The north wall of the lock chamber extends westerly from the chamber a distance of about 800 to 1,000 feet providing an approach wall to the lock from the west against which tows entering the lock may line up for the lock or if necessary, lay to, awaiting entry into the lock. The south wall of the lock chamber terminates in a bullnose at the gates of the lock.
4. The channel westerly of the lock is about 300 feet wide. Approaching the lock from the west the channel bends in a wide starboard bend for vessels approaching from that direction, changing course just east of Schoharie Creek from a direction approximately north northeast to a direction approximately east northeast.
5. The southerly side of the channel is marked by white buoys. The first buoy west of Lock No. 12, which is located about 500 feet west of the bullnose of Lock No. 12 and on the extreme southerly side of the channel, is No. 245. The next buoy westerly is on the westerly side of Schoharie Creek and is No. 247. Between these two buoys the channel makes a bend as above noted from a north northeasterly to an east northeasterly direction.
6. The collision occurred between the extreme port bow corner of the barge George K. Hambleton and the middle of the bow of the barge Arthur Herrmann. Both barges were damaged in consequence.
7. As the two flotillas were made up, their respective barges and tugs formed a single inflexible unit propelled by the tug and steered solely by the tug's rudder.
8. As the Arthur Herrmann-Gramercy flotilla was proceeding out of the Lock, the George K. Hambleton-Justine McAllister flotilla was approaching the Lock about abreast of Schoharie Creek and was displaying the green navigation lights of the barge and the tug to the Gramercy.
9 Upon the course which the Justine was then proceeding, the Hambleton would have carried over to the northerly side of the channel westerly of the lock wall where she would have been in position to line up along the lock wall for entry into the lock chamber.
10. There is a custom maintained on the Canal, which is dictated by reasons of safety and practicability, for the westbound tow coming out of the Lock to pull to its port as soon as it clears the Lock and head over sharply to the southerly side of the channel abreast of buoy 245 to allow free passage of the eastbound tow into the lock chamber.
11. The tug Gramercy, pursuant to this custom, as soon as it cleared Lock No. 12, blew a two-whistle signal and pulled over sharply to its port toward the southerly side of the channel and toward buoy 245.
12. No response was received by the Gramercy to this whistle, but the Justine McAllister continued to maintain a course which, if pursued, would carry it to the northerly side of the channel abreast of the lock wall and accomplish a starboard to starboard passing.
13. The Gramercy had pulled over to her port side of the channel and again blew two whistles and stopped her engines. The bow of the Arthur Herrmann was then about abreast of and 25 to 30 feet off White Buoy 245 with the flotilla lined up with the channel.
14. At this juncture the deckhands of the Justine McAllister were changing watch and the relieving deckhand came into the pilot house to pick up gloves and a flashlight during which time the lights were switched on in the pilot house of the Justine McAllister.
15. As soon as the pilot house lights were switched off, it was observed by the Gramercy that the barge George K. Hambleton was swinging sharply to her right and sheering off in the direction of the Arthur Herrmann. The Gramercy then blew an alarm and three whistles, indicating that she was going astern, and put her engines in reverse. At the same time an alarm and one whistle was blown by the Justine McAllister followed by three whistles from the Justine McAllister indicating that she also was reversing.
16. Collision ensued between the port bow corner of the George K. Hambleton and the bow slightly to the starboard of the mid-line of the Arthur Herrmann. The time of collision was 12:05 A.M.
17. In navigating the bend in the Canal approaching Lock No. 12, from the westerly the Justine McAllister was necessarily under a starboard wheel.
18. The Justine McAllister held the starboard wheel too long, due to inattention of her mate during the critical interval when the relieving deckhand entered the pilot house, and the George K. Hambleton accordingly completed an arc which carried her from the northerly side to the southerly side of the channel and into collision, approximately abreast of Buoy 245.
19. The contention on the part of the Justine McAllister that she was at all times holding to her starboard side of the channel approaching Lock 12 and had blown a prior one-whistle signal, indicating her intention of so doing, is rejected as incredible, in view of the custom maintaining at that Lock and the fact that the Justine McAllister was destined for the lock chamber located on the extreme northerly side of the Canal at that point.
Conclusions of Law
1. The collision between the Arthur Herrmann and the George K. Hambleton was due solely to the fault, neglect, inattention and want of care of the mate in charge of the navigation of the tug Justine McAllister.
2. No fault on the part of the Gramercy in any wise contributed to the collision.
3. Libellant, Marine Fuel Transfer Corporation, is entitled to a decree against the tug Justine McAllister for the damages sustained by it, with interest and costs and its libel against the tug Gramercy will be dismissed with costs against libellant.
4. Libellant, Conners-Standard Marine Corporation, is entitled to a decree against the tug Justine McAllister for the damages sustained by it with interest and costs and the petition impleading the tug Gramercy will be dismissed with costs against petitioner.
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