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SANTAMARIA v. THE SS OTHEM

March 4, 1959

Angelo SANTAMARIA, Libelant,
v.
THE SS OTHEM, Fearnley & Egger, Inc., R. Myrsten & Rederi, A/B/Volo, Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

The libelant (stevedore) seeks a decree against the Steamship Othem because of her alleged unseaworthiness on May 4, 1954; he fell on the deck of the ship during the course of his employment and suffered injuries.

By consent, all parties named in the libel have been dismissed from the cause, save the ship and her owner.

The libelant was a gangwayman standing alongside hatch No. 4, which was 19 feet wide and 29 feet fore and aft, just prior to his accident, and fixes the time of the latter at around 9:30 a.m.

 As will be seen, the actual time is an important element of the controversy.

 The ship lay starboard side to the State Pier, Columbia Street, Brooklyn, having arrived on May 1st, which was a Saturday. Discharge began on the 3rd and proceeded without incident on that day from the No. 3 hatch and somewhat from the aft part of No. 4. The hatch was closed when the men knocked off at 5:00 p.m.

 On May 4th at about 8:05 a.m. those hatchboards were removed and during the ensuing ten or fifteen minutes cargo was cleared from the aft portion of the hatch, and changes in the rigging of the ship's cargo tackle were needed in connection with the discharge from the forward end.

 The equipment involved consisted of two sampson posts and booms connected thereto at the top.

 As the ship lay in her berth, the up and down boom was on the port side, and the Burton to starboard; it was necessary to lower the former so that its tip and the depending fall to which drafts were made fast in the lower hold, would be over the place where the cargo handlers were working. The lowering of the boom occupied about ten or fifteen minutes. Seemingly the Burton boom to the starboard, which was in position over the stringpiece of the pier on which the drafts were landed, was not shifted; however there is no testimony on this subject.

 The rigging of the tackle used in the operation is not the subject of dispute and as presently understood, it involved one fall operated by the up and down winch, whereby a draft was hoisted three or four feet above the hatch coaming; at that level a lateral force was exerted by the fall connected with the Burton boom when the latter took over the task of swinging the draft over to and landing it upon the pier.

 If this is correct, the two falls operated as one, but in sequence. Thus the respondent's brief states:

 'The cargo wires or falls were married together and shackled into a single cargo hook.'

 This is thought to mean that when the Burton fall began to function, the up and down fall payed out, so that the draft could be landed on the pier.

 Perhaps that detail is unimportant, and it is reasonable to infer that counsel were of that opinion or they would have presented the picture in greater detail.

 Since the up and down boom had to maintain a fixed position, two stays or guys were rigged from its head so as to hold it, namely a preventer (steel cable) and working (manila).

 As to the former there is no dispute that it led to the offshore or port side of the ship, and was made fast to cleats or padeyes in the deck; as to the working guy, the same is said to be true. For instance, the respondent's brief states:

 'The witnesses were also in agreement that the working and preventer guys for the port (up and down) boom led from the head of the boom to the port (offshore) side of the ship and were secured to cleats and padeyes on the deck and rail.'

 The witness Stalnabb, who was the second mate of the ship at this time, testified to still another, called a lazy guy, thus:

 'Q. Now, this lazy guy, is that a guy that runs from the port boom over to the starboard rail? A. Yes.

 'Q. Its purpose also is to give security; is that right? A. Yes.

 'Q. Was that within the design of the boom when you first ...


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