The opinion of the court was delivered by: TYLER
On October 30, 1964, the Anne Quinn Corporation, owner of the American flag vessel Smith Voyager, entered into a charter party with defendant, the Director General of the India Supply Mission ("Mission"), agreeing to transport a shipment of wheat from the United States to India aboard the Smith Voyager. While en route to India, the ship sank on December 27, 1964, resulting in a total loss of both vessel and cargo. Plaintiff, Aetna Insurance Company ("Aetna") was the insurer of the shipowner's interest in the freight. Alleging it has paid in excess of $300,000 to the shipowner, Aetna, as subrogee, has commenced this action against Mission to recover the value of the freight, claiming that perils of the sea caused the sinking of the Smith Voyager. Mission, in turn, has impleaded the United States government, alleging that it is entitled to reimbursement from the United States in the event that any recovery is had by plaintiff.
Mission has moved for summary judgment against Aetna. The government has joined in this motion and, further, has made a separate motion to dismiss the third-party complaint. For reasons which will appear below, both motions are granted. F.R.Civ.P. 56(b).
Clause 13 of the charter party between the Anne Quinn Corporation and Mission provides the following:
"(a) Freight to be deemed earned upon arrival of the vessel at the first port of discharge and is payable in accordance with Clause 15 herein, subject to policies of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the United States Department of Agriculture, as embodied in the provisions of the Public Law 480 regulations and the applicable purchase authorizations issued thereunder.
(b) The entire freight shall at all times be at the risk of the vessel's owners."
Defendant argues that both paragraphs (a) and (b) are merely restatements of the common law rule that freight is never earned unless and until the specified goods are delivered to the appointed destination. See, generally, Poor, Charter Parties and Ocean Bills of Lading §§ 28, 30 (4th ed. 1954). Plaintiff disagrees, contending that the reference to Public Law 480 regulations introduces into the charter party a provision which contradicts the other terms of clause 13. This contradiction is said to render the charter party ambiguous, precluding summary disposition of the case. See Union Insurance Soc. of Canton, Limited v. William Gluckin & Co., 353 F.2d 946, 950 (2d Cir. 1965).
Public Law 480 is the popular name for the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 454, which, along with the regulations thereunder, provided generally that the United States government would reimburse a foreign country for the added costs incurred by the latter's importation of American surplus produce in the more expensive United States flag vessels. Much of the language of Public Law 480 was superseded by the Food for Peace Act of 1966, 80 Stat. 1526, codified in scattered sections of Title 7, United States Code.
The Public Law 480 regulation apparently relied upon by Aetna is 25 Fed.Reg. 8282 (1960), 7 C.F.R. § 11.9(b)(2) (Supp.Jan.1965) (superseded Dec. 16, 1965) (hereinafter "section 11.9(b)(2)"). Specifically, plaintiff rests its case on the following language, which was promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture to amend a fragment of the then existing regulations:
"[A] notice of arrival will not be required in the event the vessel is lost or unable to proceed to destination after completion of loading because of damage caused by perils of the sea or other waters, collisions, stranding, jettison, wreck, fire from any cause, Act of God, public enemies or pirates, or by arrest or restraint of princes, rulers or peoples without the fault of the supplier of the ocean transportation, wars, public disorders, captures or detention by public authority in the interest of public safety, provided the owner or operator supplies evidence satisfactory to Commodity Credit Corporation of such disability."
Perhaps its relevance is thought to stem from its position in the Federal Register, immediately following another amendment to those regulations which concern the provisions required to be inserted in all Public Law 480 charter parties. See 25 Fed.Reg. 8281 (1960), 7 C.F.R. § 11.4(d)(8) (Supp.Jan.1965) (superseded Dec. 16, 1965).
Nevertheless, the introductory language of section 11.9 and section 11.9(b)(2):
Drafts drawn on CCC and requests submitted to CCC for reimbursement shall be supported by the documents ...