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IN RE TA CHI NAVIGATION CORP.

November 5, 1980

In the Matter of the Complaint of TA CHI NAVIGATION (PANAMA) CORP., S.A., as Owner of the S.S. EURYPYLUS for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TENNEY

This is an action brought by complainant Ta Chi Navigation (Panama) Corp., S.A. ("Ta Chi") for exoneration of its steamship S.S. EURYPYLUS under the Fire Statute of the United States, 46 U.S.C. § 182, and for limitation of damages under 46 U.S.C. § 183. The action arises out of an explosion and massive fire on board S.S. EURYPYLUS on November 10, 1975 while the ship was at sea proceeding from Taiwan around the world. The explosion and fire resulted in the deaths of and injury to certain officers and members of the crew, and damages to cargo and belongings. As a result it became necessary to abandon the ship, and she became a constructive total loss. Various claimants have filed claims and answers denying Ta Chi's right to exoneration and/or limitation of liability and seeking full recovery of their claims for cargo damage, personal injury, and salvage, but these claimants were enjoined from proceeding and their claims were consolidated in one action in accordance with 46 U.S.C. § 185. *fn1" The issue of liability only has been tried by the Court. At the commencement of the trial, the personal injury and death claims were settled as between those claimants and Ta Chi.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. This is a case of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction within the meaning of Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This court has jurisdiction of this proceeding.

 2. The petitioner, Ta Chi, is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the Republic of Panama with its principal office and place of business in Taipei, Taiwan, and was at all material times hereto the owner of the steamship, S.S. EURYPYLUS.

 3. Cargo claimants are shippers and consignees who shipped cargo on board S.S. EURYPYLUS in accordance with the shipowner's bill of lading and pursuant to the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 1300 et seq. (hereinafter "COGSA").

 4. The S.S. EURYPYLUS was a steel general cargo ship built in 1958 in Port Glasgow, Scotland under the requirements of the 1948 Safety of Life at Sea Act Convention and the requirements of the laws of the United Kingdom for merchant vessels. Originally the ship was named the S.S. MANGLA. The plans for the ship were approved by Lloyd's Registry of Merchant Shipping with a 100A-1 classification. The ship had the following registered dimensions: length 151.49 meters (497 feet); beam 19.33 meters (63 feet); gross tonnage 8,601 tons; net tonnage 4,419 tons. The ship was equipped with two steam turbine engines generating 8,000 horsepower. She had a "tween deck running the length of the ship, and had six hatches on or above the level of the main deck. Hatch # 1 was situated immediately aft of the forecastle deck, the hold extending forward under that deck. Aft of hatch # 1 was a raised structure for winches and controls serving the heavy multiple crane which, together with the foremast, was located there. Aft of this structure was hatch # 2, and further aft a raised structure for winches and controls serving another heavy multiple crane. Finally, between the crane structure and the midship accommodation house was hatch # 3, with a light double crane situated between the hatch and the midship accommodation house.

 The midship accommodation house occupied the full width of the ship and extended fore and aft approximately 148 feet. It rose some 42 feet from main deck level and was divided by three decks, i. e., the bridge deck, the promenade deck, and the boat deck. One level above the boat deck and forward was the navigating bridge structure. Aft of this structure was the ship's funnel and ventilators. The various decks of the midship accommodation house will be described in greater detail hereinafter.

 Just aft of and extending into the midship accommodation house forward to the engine room casing above the main deck was the refrigerating machinery room, the ship being fitted out to carry refrigerated cargo in reefer compartments located in the after section of hatch # 3 and the forward section of hatch # 4, in both cases on the "tween deck. The structure housing the refrigeration machinery rose to the level of the bridge deck, the top of the structure constituting a continuation or extension of that deck in the midship accommodation house. Atop the extended bridge deck and immediately aft of the upper midship accommodation house was hatch # 4, a smaller hatch lengthwise than hatches # 1, # 2 and # 3 forward of that structure. Immediately aft of hatch # 4 and at bridge deck level was a heavy multiple crane with winches to port and starboard, while further aft on the bridge deck extension was a swimming pool. Immediately aft of the deck extension was hatch # 5. Then, moving further aft, was a raised structure rising to the level of the bridge deck extension and housing, inter alia, the cargo office and switchboard locker, atop of which structure was situated a heavy multiple crane. Aft of this structure was hatch # 6, slightly smaller than hatches # 2, # 3 and # 5 but larger than hatches # 1 and # 4.

 Aft of hatch # 6 was the structure which contained the living accommodations for the crew. Directly below and slightly above "tween deck level was the steering gear platform where the steering gear machinery was located. It was here that the diesel emergency fire pump was situated, forward of the steering gear machinery and readily accessible by means of a ladder in the crew's accommodations on the main deck. At main deck level, where the spiral stairway from the shaft alley terminated, were situated the quarters for members of the crew. On the deck above, or poop deck, were separate galleys and mess rooms, one for the engine room members of the crew, the other for the seamen or members of the deck department. The top level of this structure constituted the docking bridge which also contained a small hospital space.

 5. The engine room/boiler room spaces (hereinafter sometimes "the engine room spaces") and equipment of S.S. EURYPYLUS to the extent pertinent were as hereinafter described. *fn2"

 In the bottom of the ship were two contiguous double bottom tanks on top of which, commencing on the starboard side, were the # 1 diesel generator and # 2 diesel generator with the high pressure turbine and low pressure turbine (atop the main condenser) amidships and # 3 diesel generator on the port side. Approximately 3 feet above the base of the three generators and main condenser was the bottom platform, or first level. The three diesel generators rose approximately to the second level about 10 feet above. This was primarily the maneuvering platform located in the forward half of the engine room and forward of the high pressure and low pressure turbines. The gear box for the turbines was located directly aft, and aftermost amidships was the main electric switchboard.

 The maneuvering platform consisted of grating but as it proceeded forward it became steel plate on which the port main boiler and starboard main boiler were situated. The main engine maneuvering board was located amidships aft of the two boilers. The port boiler gauge board was situated slightly aft and outboard of that boiler; the starboard boiler gauge board was situated slightly aft and outboard of that boiler. Forward of the main boilers and amidships was the Cochran donkey boiler or auxiliary boiler with its pumps and heater, while to port and starboard of the auxiliary boiler, were diesel and fuel oil deep or settling tanks. The main boilers and auxiliary boiler rose from slightly below the "tween deck almost to the level of the main deck.

 About 3 feet above the second level or maneuvering platform was the third level, actually the lower "tween deck, which could be reached from the second level by two short ladders (two similar ladders to port and starboard aft of the turbines were also available). One ladder served the port side of the third level and was located to port and slightly forward of the low pressure turbine. There was also a ladder adjacent to this short ladder which descended directly to the first level 12 to 13 feet below. The turbo generator was located on the port side of this third level, and between that and the port side of the ship were a series of diesel and lubricating tanks, forward of which the port boiler fan was located, and further forward the fuel oil pumps and heaters. Directly aft of the turbo generator was the motor generator for lighting. The second short ladder served the starboard side of the third level and was located to port and slightly forward of the high pressure turbine. There was also a longer ladder which was located just forward of the turbo generator and descended to the first level near # 3 diesel generator. On the starboard side of the third level was located the engine room workshop and above that the diesel spare part store which was reached by a ladder aft of the workshop. Further aft of the workshop was the distilling plant. Forward of the workshop was the starboard boiler fan, and further forward the low pressure steam generator and fuel and diesel oil deep tanks.

 Sixteen feet above the third level was the fourth level or main deck of the vessel. The engine/boiler room space continued from the main deck through the bridge deck and promenade deck to the boat deck atop the superstructure. However, this space was separated between engine space and boiler space above the main deck, i. e., on the main deck, partially by an engineers' storeroom amidship on the port side; on the bridge deck, completely by a stairway and engineers' sanitary facilities; and on the promenade deck, by the stairway and officers' sanitary facilities, all similarly situated. Egress to the boat deck was effected through an escape hatch. There was no skylight. The space from the main deck to the boat deck was sheathed in steel with insulation. Access to the engine/boiler room spaces was effected on the main deck by a door on the port side and on the bridge deck by a door on the starboard side of the engine room space. There was also a door aft on the port side leading to the cargo refrigerating machinery. *fn3" A walkway proceeded along the port side and around the space at main deck level and presumably another walkway and/or ladder served the bridge deck. From the main deck walkway a stairway descended to the third level. The other principal access was effected through the shaft tunnel around the first level. It ran aft from the casing of the engine room near the high pressure turbine and above the shaft a distance of approximately 160 feet to where it was connected by a ladder with a large spiral stairway ascending to the accommodation superstructure at the stern of the ship, thus giving ready access to the engine room spaces to the crew members berthed aft.

 6. The spaces of the midship accommodation house were, to the extent pertinent, described as follows:

 Main Deck At main deck level the accommodation house had two entrances with doors leading into what has been referred to as the tonnage alleyways. On the port side the entrance also lead into a parallel passageway outboard of the tonnage alleyway which extended aft some 48 feet. Along the outboard side of this passageway were cabins designed for the ship's carpenter, petty officer and those few members of the crew quartered there. The passageway terminated, after a sharp turn inboard, in a steel bulkhead part of the port side of the tonnage alleyway. Directly across from this bulkhead and on the port side of the parallel passageway was a door which gave access to sanitary facilities serving the living accommodations and also to a ladder to the boat deck above. Along the inboard side of the parallel passageway were various storage spaces, a drying room, and at the further end aft, the steward's paint shop. The bulkheads on both sides of this passageway were made of wood. In order to proceed aft through the structure on the port side at main deck level it was necessary to turn left upon passing the carpenter's accommodation and proceed a few feet beyond the row of storage spaces. Turning to the right, one proceeded directly aft through the port tonnage alleyway. This alleyway was 4 feet wide and extended directly aft in a straight line for approximately 90 feet. There was steel bulkheading along both sides of this alleyway, and on the starboard side length of the engine room spaces was steel casing. Proceeding aft in the tonnage alleyway one had to pass a locker and drying room, to which access could only be attained via the parallel passageway serving the living quarters, the storerooms and the steward's paint shop, with access thereto only from the tonnage alleyway. There was no further access outboard of the tonnage alleyway until it swung outboard and then continued aft along the port side of the ship. However, adjacent and outboard of the port side bulkhead of the tonnage alleyway was a second narrow parallel passageway, access to which was by a door leading from the space outside the living accommodations forward which have been described above. Proceeding aft along this narrow passageway one passed first the dispensary, then space and living quarters designed for the ship's fitter, and finally, at the end of the passageway, what was described as a hospital. Except for a door giving access to a motor room situated in the forward section of the tonnage alleyway, the only access facility on the inboard side was the door to the engine room located approximately 65 feet along the main portion of the tonnage alleyway. Roughly 6 feet forward of that door and on the outboard bulkhead of the passageway was a metal rack with 10 apertures approximately 8 inches in diameter which were used for the storage of oxygen, acetylene, and possibly freon cylinders. *fn4" Approximately 10 to 15 feet aft of this rack the tonnage alleyway turned outboard to the port side of the ship and continued a further distance of some 45 feet to the after bulkhead of the amidship structure where there was access to the open main deck aft immediately adjacent and to port of hatch # 5. However, this opening was closed by wooden planks fitted into steel channels.

 Unlike the tonnage alleyway on the port side of the ship, the starboard tonnage alleyway ran aft in a straight line for almost its entire length. Access was gained through a door in the forward bulkhead on the port side of the ship. Moving aft, the starboard passageway ran some 135 feet terminating in open access to the main deck near to starboard rail. This open access, like that to the after end of the port tonnage alleyway, was closed by wooden planks fitted into steel channels. Juncture with the port tonnage alleyway was effected by a passageway athwartship about 12 feet aft of the forward bulkhead of the structure. In effect, and as will be developed hereinafter, both the port and starboard alleyways were closed to the sea fore and aft (i. e., forward by doors, aft by wooden planks). Had these doors been watertight doors this main deck space would not have been considered as "open deck" for cargo and tonnage purposes.

 Bridge Deck One deck above the main deck was the bridge deck, which could be reached from within the amidships structure by two stairways leading up amidships from the living accommodations along the port side of the ship and by a single stairway in the forward portion of the starboard tonnage passageway. There were also four stairways abutting the structure fore and aft and to port and starboard giving outside access to that deck. Situated on the bridge deck were the living quarters for the officers in the engineering department, the assistant purser and the chief steward. An inner passageway ran along the port side of the deck inboard of the living accommodations and outboard of the engine/boiler room casing. A similar passageway ran along the starboard side of the casing and inboard of the living accommodations, the duty mess, galley and pantry on the starboard side. Both passageways were reached through doors opening forward onto the open deckway surrounding the structure. Both passageways terminated in the saloon or officers' mess directly aft and abutting the engine room casing. This messroom extended approximately 32 feet athwartship and 16 feet fore and aft. The chief steward's quarters were to port of one end of the messroom, the pantry to starboard of the other end. Forward of the engine room spaces was the main stairway amidship and then a passageway between running athwartships to connect the two parallel fore and aft passageways. Access to the engine room spaces was through a door on the starboard side of the engine room casing. The stairways described above rising from the main deck continued on to the deck above the bridge deck and the promenade deck.

 Promenade Deck One deck above the bridge deck was the promenade deck. Here were situated the quarters for the deck officers other than the master. Fore and aft parallel passageways similar to those on the deck below ran along the sides of the engine/boiler room casing. Forwardmost on the port side was the office and quarters for the chief officer. Moving aft along the passageway was an alley giving access to the open deck, then the doctor's quarters, followed by three passenger staterooms. Just aft of the engine room casing was the passengers' lounge. Living quarters for the other deck officers were situated along the starboard side of the engine room spaces outboard of the starboard fore and aft passageway. Forward of the casing and main stairway was a passageway athwartship forward of which was the officers' lounge amidship. Both parallel passageways opened fore and aft on the open deck, with further access to that deck on the port and starboard sides forward. Access to the deck above was by the main stairway forward of the engine room spaces or by stairways to port and starboard aft on the open deck. There was apparently no access to the engine room spaces from this deck level.

 The Boat Deck Situated above the promenade deck was the boat deck where the master's stateroom was located amidships and forward of the main stairway. Aft of the main stairway the boiler room casing continued to the deck above, terminating in the ship's funnel. There was an escape trunk from the boiler room space opening onto the open boat deck on the starboard side. The engine room space was topped by the boat deck and by locker space, including two lifesaving equipment lockers, one on the starboard side, the other on the port. Further aft and amidships was an area presumably for the passengers. To port and starboard of these midship spaces there was open deck space, equipped to carry awnings above the deck, outboard of which were located the ship's lifeboats. Lifeboats # 1 and # 3 were located on the starboard side, motor lifeboat # 2 and lifeboat # 4 on the port side, all with winches and davits to swing them outboard and lower them into the sea.

 The Navigating Bridge Finally, the topmost structure was the navigating bridge containing the wheelhouse forward with wings on the open deck extending to port and starboard and slightly outboard of the ship's sides. Just aft of the wheelhouse was the chart room to port and the radio shack to starboard separated by a fore and aft passageway and terminating in a passageway running athwartships with the main stairway aft and amidships and locker spaces to port and starboard of that stairway.

 As hereinbefore noted, the engine/boiler room casing rose from the ship's bottom through the upper decks, with the engine room casing terminating at boat deck level, and the boiler room casing at the funnel level aft of the navigating bridge. This casing was originally 0.26 inch thick but was later increased by 0.04 inch to 0.30 inch. It was steel and of riveted construction. However, at "tween deck level the boiler room casing enclosed a larger area than did the engine room casing. At main deck level there was an engineer's storeroom along the port side of an intervening space between the engine room and boiler room spaces although the casing surrounded the entire engine/boiler room space. Above the main deck there was separate casing for the engine room and boiler room spaces with a stairway and sanitary facilities situated in the space between these casings at bridge deck and promenade deck levels.

 Of no little significance is the fact that the bulkheads on the main deck outboard of the port tonnage alleyway and inboard of the ship's hull separating and enclosing the living quarters were made of wood as were the bulkheads to port and starboard of the casing on the bridge and promenade decks.

 Ventilation

 Ventilation of the engine/boiler room spaces was accomplished by an arrangement of two inlet and one exhaust electrically powered fans, the ventilation system extending up from main deck level to the boat deck. The discharge system was a closed type electric motor activated by two sets of buttons, one set on the side of the motor, the other outside the engine room casing on the bridge deck. This system placed the engine and boiler room under constant pressure. The inlet fans blew air into the engine room at approximately 11/2 inches of water pressure, while the exhaust system was at a pressure of 1/2 inch of water, so that the space was under a constant pressure of one inch of water. The intake of air was approximately twenty-two to twenty-five thousand cubic feet per minute. Accordingly, if any doors to the casing at main deck level were open, a massive flow of air would pass out of the engine/boiler room space through that door.

 Fire-Fighting Systems

 7. There were two principal systems for fighting a major fire aboard S.S. EURYPYLUS, a water system and a steam system. The water system consisted of a fire main utilizing pumps, hydrants, hoses and nozzles with the hydrants located at strategic locations on deck, within the deck structures, and within the hull of the ship. The steam system was a smothering system utilizing steam from the main and auxiliary boilers with outlets in the engine room and in the cargo holds. The main boiler system was utilized when the ship was under power, the auxiliary boiler system while in port.

 8. The fire water main system may be roughly described as a square within the square of the midship accommodation house with two arms, one extending aft along the starboard side of hatches # 4, # 5 and # 6, the other extending forward along the port side of hatches # 3, # 2 and # 1. Commencing aft at main deck level, the fire main extended athwartship just aft of hatch # 6 with a hydrant located at the port end of the extension. There was also an extension and risers servicing the aft accommodation structure. The main proceeded forward from the athwartship extension along the starboard side of hatches # 6 and # 5, turning and running to port along the forward side of hatch # 5 to the port side of the ship where there was a multiple hydrant. Between hatches # 6 and # 5 and between hatches # 5 and # 4 there were extensions running to the bottom of the ship. At main deck level, the main proceeded beyond the multiple hydrant on the port side for a short distance to enter the midship accommodation house before it bifurcated, one section proceeding athwartship to the starboard side of the ship and thence forward, the other section following the path of the port tonnage alleyway exiting the accomodation structure through the pipe tunnel amidships and directly aft of hatch # 3. It then proceeded to port and thence forward along the port side of hatches # 3, # 2 and # 1 with extensions to the ship's bottom aft, between, and forward of those hatches. In the midship accommodation structure there were risers to the upper decks so that, although the section of the fire main on the starboard side of the main deck did not rejoin the section servicing the port side of the structure on main deck level, this was accomplished through risers serving the bridge and boat deck levels.

 The fire main was serviced by the fire or general service pump, or by a ballast pump, which were driven by electricity and situated in the engine room. There was also a steam-driven pump and a bilge pump in the engine room which, by the use of several valves, might have serviced the fire main. Outside the engine room and in the stern of the ship was a diesel-powered fire pump situated in the steering machinery room below the main deck. This emergency fire pump fed directly into the fire main aft.

 Water command valves were situated on the port side of the bridge deck in the accommodation passageway above the tonnage alleyway. By operating one or the other of these valves it was possible to isolate sections of the fire main, i. e., the engine room section or the sections forward and aft.

 9. The emergency fire pump which fed directly into the fire main, was situated in the steering gear room aft and consisted of a twin cylinder "Petter" diesel engine which drove a "megator" fire pump. The pump had a capacity of 25 cubic meters per hour (110 gallons per minute) and was situated approximately 8 feet below the main deck. It had an independent fuel supply. Sea water was drawn through an opening in the ship's bottom. A valve in the steering gear room controlling the opening and shutting of the system was connected by a series of gears and spindles to the opening in the ship's bottom. The valve could also be activated in deck space directly below the steering gear room that was reached by a descending ladder. Access to the steering gear room itself was by a ladder from the main deck, not by the spiral stairway leading from the shaft tunnel.

 10. S.S. EURYPYLUS was equipped with a fixed steam smothering system in the engine room and all of the cargo holds, from which steam could be injected from the main boiler and the auxiliary boiler into the boiler and engine room spaces and the holds. The main controls were situated on the third level of the engine room. There were two valves situated on the port side of the engine room connected to the main boiler system and two valves on the starboard side connected to the auxiliary boiler system. One of the two valves on the port and starboard sides of the engine room controlled the injection of steam into the engine and boiler room spaces. The other valve in each case fed steam into the system involving the cargo holds. In addition, situated by each hold was a separate valve which had to be opened with a spanner. Remote controls for the engine and boiler room system were located in the main bridge deck tonnage alleyways, one on the port side for the main boiler system, and one on the starboard side for the auxiliary boiler system. In the port tonnage alleyway, the remote control was situated within a few feet of the oxygen-acetylene storage rack. This remote control system consisted of hand wheels located outside the engine room casing which were connected by spindles to the steam smothering valves in the engine room on both the port and starboard sides. In addition, at the same locations there was another valve on the port side which remotely controlled the steam to the oil fuel service pump in the engine room, and another on the starboard side remotely controlling steam to the sanitary system.

 11. The S.S. EURYPYLUS was purchased by Compania Maritima San Basilio S.A. ("San Basilio") from the Cunard Brockle Bank Company in 1971 and thereafter operated on behalf of the purchaser by P.D. Marchessini Ltd. ("Marchessini"). Prior to such purchase the ship, originally named S.S. MANGLA, flew the British flag. She was operated by Marchessini from April 1972 until December 1974 when the ship was delivered to Ta Chi pursuant to a contract of sale signed in August 1974. This contract, a standard Japanese Shipping Exchange form with amendments, required that the ship be delivered in full class with no outstanding recommendations. Any deficiencies at time of delivery, including missing equipment, were to be made good by the seller, San Basilio.

 12. Prior to the purchase of S.S. EURYPYLUS from Marchessini, Ta Chi entered into a contract with Kee Yeh Shipping Company of Taipei, Taiwan ("Kee Yeh") whereby Kee Yeh as owner's agents were to supply all technical, naval architectural, marine engineering and general husbandry services required to maintain and provision the ship in a condition fit to discharge the duties for which she was designed and employed. Y.Y. Yu ("Yu") was general manager of both Ta Chi and Kee Yeh, and each corporation had only two officers, a chairman and Yu as general manager. Ta Peng Shipping Co. ("Ta Peng") handled cargo for Ta Chi, and its United States agent was Transnational Maritime in New York. C.C. Lee was chairman of Kee Yeh and P.C. Hsaio was chairman of Ta Peng and Ta Chi. Together they had formed Ta Chi as owner of the ships they would service.

 13. S.S. EURYPYLUS was required to comply with the regulations of Lloyd's Registry of Merchant Shipping ("Lloyds"), a recognized classification society, and the requirements of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention ("SOLAS"). She was classed by Lloyds, and her safety and fire-fighting equipment was regularly surveyed by Lloyds at least every two years. She met or exceeded the requirements set by both SOLAS and Lloyds. The equipment aboard S.S. EURYPYLUS included: three fire pumps; twenty-eight hydrants; twelve hoses and nozzles (conical and spray-type nozzles), of which four nozzles were located in the engine room; forty-two fire extinguishers; a fixed steam fire-fighting system for the engine room and cargo holds; three firemen's outfits; and one emergency fire pump which was located in the steering gear room at the stern of the ship and has already been referred to.

 14. On April 9, 1974, while under San Basilio ownership and Greek registration, S.S. EURYPYLUS was inspected by a Lloyds surveyor. Each piece of fire-fighting and safety equipment was subject to a complete and detailed inspection, and a safety equipment certificate valid until April 8, 1976 was issued to the ship. However, when the flag of a ship is changed from one country to another, a complete inspection of all the ship's fire-fighting and safety equipment must be conducted, even though a valid safety equipment certificate is in effect. Accordingly, a detailed inspection of the ship's fire-fighting and lifesaving equipment was conducted by a Lloyds surveyor on behalf of the Government of Panama at the time of the delivery of the ship to Ta Chi on December 14, 1974.

 15. At the time of the delivery of S.S. EURYPYLUS to Ta Chi, M.M. Hwang ("Hwang"), engineering manager of Kee Yeh, and his staff, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract of sale, checked all navigation equipment and machinery aboard the ship, and inspected each item aboard, including spare parts and stores. They found nothing in need of repair or replacement. Hwang has also sent Kee Yeh personnel to Manila to sail with the ship from Manila to Taiwan prior to delivery to Ta Chi to familiarize themselves with the ship. They reported all to be in good order and condition.

 16. With respect to fire-fighting and lifesaving activities, the engineering manager of Kee Yeh instructed the master and chief officer of S.S. EURYPYLUS to conduct fire and boat drills at least once a month in accordance with the provisions of SOLAS, which required such drills weekly on ships carrying passengers and monthly on cargo ships. S.S. EURYPYLUS, following her purchase from San Basilio, no longer carried passengers.

 17. Lifeboat and fire-fighting stations were shown on a muster list printed in Chinese and English, indicating each man's duty for both fire and boat drills. This list was posted on the bridge and in the passageway outside the main dining saloon. There was also a white duty card on the door of each man's cabin stating his station in the event of a fire and boat drill. In addition, S.S. EURYPYLUS had a plan posted in the alleyway outside the main dining saloon setting forth the precise location of each piece of fire-fighting apparatus. A lifesaving equipment plan setting forth the precise location of each piece of lifesaving apparatus on board the ship was similarly posted. A chart in the engine room indicated the locations of fire-fighting equipment in the engine room spaces. Each of the officers aboard received fire-fighting training while attending Taiwan Maritime College before obtaining his license as an officer.

 18. At the time of the delivery of S.S. EURYPYLUS to Ta Chi, a lifeboat and fire-fighting drill in which all crew members participated was conducted.

 19. After delivery of S.S. EURYPYLUS to Ta Chi in December 1974, she completed one voyage which took her to Japan, through the Panama Canal to Puerto Rico, Germany, Belgium, England, then through the Suez Canal to the Far East and Taiwan. The voyage commenced in the spring of 1975 and terminated in late September of that year. On this first voyage the ship encountered difficulties with the # 2 generator. The bearings burned out, and the chief engineer had to replace the bush and pin. At the termination of the first voyage he requested that the # 2 generator be repaired, which was done.

 20. Prior to the departure of S.S. EURYPYLUS from her home port of Kaoschiung, Taiwan on October 2, 1975, Hwang, the engineering manager of Kee Yeh, reviewed the log book of the vessel and noted the entry of monthly fire drills during the prior voyage. He also checked all navigation and engine room equipment and found it to be in good order and condition. He further inspected all fire-fighting and lifesaving equipment and found that all fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and nozzles were in their proper location.

 21. The 1st officer of S.S. EURYPYLUS was responsible for inspection of the fire-fighting equipment aboard the vessel and it was his responsibility to direct the fire-fighting efforts. Prior to departure from Kaoschiung, the 1st officer inspected all fire-fighting equipment on deck and found all to be in good order and condition and in the proper location set forth in the fire-fighting equipment plan.

 The 1st engineer was responsible for the fire-fighting and safety equipment in the engine room. Prior to departure, and at the request of the 1st officer, he inspected all of the fire-fighting and safety equipment in the engine room and found all to be in good order and condition.

 22. Prior to the commencement of the voyage the steam smothering system for the engine and boiler rooms was tested by the 1st engineer and the system for the cargo holds was inspected and checked by the 1st engineer and the 1st officer, although steam was not actually injected into the cargo holds due to the presence of cargo. Both systems were operational.

 23. At the time S.S. EURYPYLUS sailed from Kaoschiung, Taiwan on October 2, 1975 she was manned as follows: Master, 1st officer, two 2nd officers, a 3rd officer, chief engineer, 1st engineer, two 2nd engineers, a 3rd engineer, an assistant 3rd engineer, an electrician, a fitter, a radio operator, a quartermaster, a bosun, a chief cook, a 2nd cook, a chief steward, seven able-bodied seamen, three ordinary seamen, three oilers, three firemen, two wipers, and three maintenance men. Of the total crew of forty, eighteen were Chinese, twenty-two were Filipino. All of the officers were Chinese and all were quartered in the accommodation house amidships, together with the quartermaster, bosun, the electrician, the fitter, the chief steward, and an oiler. All but one or two of these were also Chinese. While this voyage was the first for some of the officers, many of them and of the crew had served on the first voyage. Despite the difference in national origin, communication between officers and crew was not seriously impeded.

 24. The bills of lading issued by Ta Peng for the cargo loaded aboard S.S. EURYPYLUS on this voyage were "subject to the provisions of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act of the United States of America, approved April 16, 1936, which shall be deemed to be incorporated herein ...." *fn5"

 25. After departing Kaoschiung, the vessel proceeded to Keelung, Taiwan to load cargo and stores, arriving there on October 4, 1975. Among other stores, she loaded seven filled oxygen cylinders, two filled acetylene cylinders, and 1,450 pounds of freon. These ship's stores were billed directly to Ta Chi. At Keelung, Hwang, the engineering manager of Kee Yeh, together with Ho, the port engineer of Kee Yeh, observed the cylinders in the rack in the tonnage alleyway on the main deck previously described. Hwang had sailed aboard the vessel from Kaoschiung to Keelung.

 26. From Keelung the vessel proceeded to Kobe, Japan to load cargo, departing on October 23, 1975.

 27. A few days after leaving Japan a lifeboat drill and a fire drill were conducted aboard S.S. EURYPYLUS. The signal for the lifeboat drill was one long blast and seven short blasts on the ship's whistle, that for the fire drill was the rapid sound of a bell for ten seconds, then indication of the location of the fire by electrically powered microphone. The fire drill assumed the existence of a cargo fire in hold # 4. This location was selected because repair work was in progress on the forward deck and cargo was stored on the after deck at # 5 and # 6 holds. During the fire drill the general service or fire pump was used, as was the emergency fire pump. Both pumps were fully operational. The lifeboat and fire-fighting drills were entered in the log by the 1st officer.

 28. At some time during the period from October 2, 1975 to November 10, 1975 further difficulty with the electrical system aboard S.S. EURYPYLUS was encountered, this time at the main electrical switchboard. A fuse for the air-conditioning system blew out causing the connection coil to the magnetic switch for the generators to burn out. The connection coil and fuse, both located in the main switchboard, were replaced and operated normally thereafter.

 29. On November 9, 1975 the chief engineer found a leak in the 4 inch diesel transfer pipeline. This pipeline transferred diesel oil from the diesel oil tank to the diesel settling tank on the second level of the engine room by means of an electric transfer pump on the bottom level. The transfer pipeline was on the bottom level of the engine room just outboard of the port main boiler and just forward of generator # 3. When the chief engineer discovered the leak he had the 1st engineer put a clamp about 3 inches long over the leakage area which stopped the leakage and permitted the transfer of oil to the settling tank for up to two hours that afternoon.

 30. On the following day, November 10, 1975 at 8 a.m., the chief engineer made his daily inspection of the equipment in the engine room spaces which included a check of diesel generators # 1 and # 3 for oil pressure, measurement of fuel and lubricating oil, revolutions, temperature and unusual sounds or leakage. He found everything in good order. Only generators # 1 and # 3 were operating on line that day, with generator # 2, which had experienced difficulty on the prior voyage, held on reserve.

 After completing his inspection the chief engineer asked the 1st engineer to help him take down the section of 4 inch pipe where the leakage had taken place. The 1st engineer was on watch for 8-12 a.m. and 1-5 p.m., although the engineer in charge was the 2nd engineer. There was one oiler and one fireman on each watch, and in addition on daytime watches, there was the fitter and two wipers along with the assistant 3rd engineer. The 1st engineer, together with the fitter and a wiper, removed a 10 foot section of the pipe by unbolting the flanges at the ends. The ends of the remaining pipe were closed off with flanges and gaskets. The removed section was brought up to the workshop and the 1st engineer instructed those on duty in the workshop to clean the oil from the pipe. The pipe was then fixed securely by spot-welding two steel files to the deck and one side of the pipe, and the damaged portion of the pipe section excised.

 The spot-welding and excision of the pipe was accomplished by the fitter utilizing electric welding equipment permanently connected in the workshop with a transformer located there. Power was received from the electric generators through the main electric switchboard. A trolley unit furnished mobility to the equipment which was activated by a switch.

 After the pipe had been cleaned and fixed to the workshop deck, the chief engineer instructed the 1st engineer and the fitter to connect up the hoses to an oxygen and an acetylene cylinder stowed in the rack in the tonnage alleyway on the main deck. The hoses were normally stored, together with spare hose or extensions, on a shelf next to the rack. In order to reach the workshop in the engine room the hoses were led through the door on the port side of the casing leading off the alleyway, then along the catwalk athwartship to a stairway which descended at a point approximately one-third the distance along that catwalk, from port to starboard, to a platform midway between the second and fourth levels. The stairway continued from the platform to the second level, terminating between the high pressure and low pressure turbines.

 The hoses did not extend to the second level but were led off at the stairway platform level across into the workshop on the third level. Where the hoses passed along the catwalk and stairway they were tied to the pipe railing so that the hoses would not get loose and come into contact with the deck. The oxy-acetylene system was rigged on a standby basis during the morning watch because of the need to conserve oxygen. The work which had been going on on the hawse or chain pipe on the forward deck of the ship during the past two weeks had exhausted all but one cylinder of that gas. However, it was clearly the intention of the chief engineer to use the system during the afternoon watch, *fn6" although it was not normal to extend the hoses down into the workshop in the manner just described.

 The Oxy-acetylene system The oxy-acetylene system consisted of separate cylinders of oxygen and acetylene with pressure gauges affixed at the top or neck of the cylinder. The pressure, at least in the acetylene cylinder, was 264 pounds per square inch. The cylinders were opened or shut by fitting a key onto a square notch on top of the cylinder to activate the valve there. This key was kept by the fitter near the cylinders. Separate hoses were connected to the oxygen and acetylene cylinders, and, if necessary, additional lengths of hose were connected to reach the site of operations. The two hoses terminated at a torch which itself incorporated additional valves. At the base of the torch were two reducing valves, one for the oxygen, the other for the acetylene, to reduce the pressure and volume. Farther down the handle of the torch there was another valve which controlled the flow of both the oxygen and acetylene. *fn7" In order to light the torch it was necessary first to shut off the reducing valves and the torch valve and then open the valves on the cylinders. Once the valves on the cylinders had been opened, it was necessary to open and adjust the reducing valves. Finally, the torch valve was opened and by feeling by hand or smelling at the end of the torch one could determine whether the gases were emerging. Once this was determined, the torch was lighted and its intensity adjusted with the reducing valves setting the required proportions of the two gases.

 After the oxy-acetylene system was rigged, work continued until noon with the electric welding system utilized to excise the damaged portion of the removed section and to weld a flange to the new piece of pipe cut to replace the damaged portion. At noon the chief engineer departed for lunch, leaving the 1st engineer, the fitter, and the wiper still in the workshop. On his way out of the engine room he checked the hoses along his path and also the valves on the oxygen and acetylene cylinders, although the 1st engineer had originally checked these valves when the system was rigged that morning and had reported them closed. After lunching and preparing his noon report and log entries the chief engineer again descended to the engine room workshop and told the fitter to machine up the remaining flange and instructed the 1st engineer "to get everything ready." Ta Chi Exh. TTT, Deposition of Hsu p. 82. Thereafter he returned to his cabin on the bridge deck, but on his way he again checked the hoses and the valves on the cylinders.

 31. On November 10, 1975 at 1:50 p.m. S.S. EURYPYLUS suffered a catastrophic explosion and fire in her engine/boiler room space and midship accommodation structure. Her location at the time by dead reckoning was Latitude 24o 15' N, Longitude 119o 35' W. She was some 800 miles from her next port of call, Cristobal, Panama, with further ports of call in Puerto Rico and the Atlantic east coast of the United States. The sea was moderate.

 32. At the time of the explosion, diesel generators # 1 and # 3, both main boilers, one feed pump serving both boilers, one distilled water pump, and two lubricating pumps were in full operation as was other electrically powered machinery.

 33. At the time of the explosion there were ten officers and members of the engine department in the engine/boiler room space. During this afternoon watch the 3rd engineer was in charge, but subject to the 1st engineer. Also present were the 3rd engineer and the assistant 3rd engineer, two firemen (Donado and Raquino), two oilers (Gregorio Fernandez and Serna), one wiper (Elizande Fernandez) and the fitter. With the exception of the chief engineer and the junior assistant 2nd engineer, all of the officers in the engine department were in the engine or boiler room space at the time of the explosion. All of these officers were either killed, died as a result of the explosion, or were severely burned. The 2nd engineer (watch officer) and the assistant 3rd engineer were killed, and the 1st and 3rd engineers were severely burned. Among the other engine room personnel, two were killed, a wiper (Elizande Fernandez) and the fitter, while one fireman (Donado) and one oiler (Gregorio Fernandez) were severely burned. Only two persons, a fireman (Raquino) and an oiler (Serna), *fn8" emerged unscathed.

 34. Of the four killed, three (the assistant 3rd engineer, the fitter, and wiper Elizande Fernandez) were in the workshop on the third level and the fourth man (the 2nd engineer and watch officer) was in the immediate vicinity at the main controls. The 1st engineer testified that the 3rd engineer, who was burned, was also in the workshop. The 1st engineer was standing in front of or beside the starboard main boiler with the oiler Fernandez and two firemen, Donato and Raquino. One of these two firemen, Donato, was on watch. The other, Raquino, was on overtime preparing to paint the water feed line for the boiler. As for the two oilers, one, Gregorio Fernandez, was on watch; the other, Serna, who was on overtime, testified he was painting the turbo generator on the port side of the third level aft.

 35. There was only one explosion at that time, although there were additional explosions late in the afternoon. *fn9" The explosion at 1:50 p.m. was preceded by a "lightning" flash behind the 1st engineer, followed a few seconds later by a further flash and an explosion emanating from the area above the high pressure turbine and in the vicinity of the main electric switchboard. *fn10" Simultaneously oxygen and acetylene cylinders in the port tonnage alleyway exploded or ruptured blowing inboard at least one large aperture in the engine room casing, *fn11" and penetrating the refrigeration machinery room on the main deck and aft of the engine room sufficiently to burn a hole 14 inches in diameter in the deck of the officers' messroom in the aft midsection of the bridge deck above. At the same time there was a complete electrical failure incapacitating all electrical equipment, e.g., the main fire pump, the ballast pump, various feed and lubricating pumps, all lighting equipment, all air-conditioning and ventilation systems, and all communication equipment (other than a manually operated wireless transmitter).

 36. With the explosion the engine/boiler room space was filled with dense smoke which, combined with the loss of lighting, made movement by those in that space extremely difficult. While there was fire in some parts of the second and third levels, which, according to Serna, prevented him from reaching the foam extinguisher just forward of the low pressure turbine, this fire was caused by the explosive flash which also caused the burns suffered by the 1st engineer, the 3rd engineer, the fireman Donato, and the oiler Fernandez. The main fire was above the third level and around the fourth, or main deck level which made exit ...


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