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KIECKHEFER CONTAINER CO. v. THE MINERVA

February 3, 1945

KIECKHEFER CONTAINER CO.
v.
THE MINERVA et al.; THE GRETCHEN; THE DAUNTLESS NO. 12



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KALODNER

This libel is by the Kieckhefer Container Company, corporate owner of the Gretchen against the tug Minerva and against Robert W. Burritt, Elizabeth Boyer, executrix of the estate of Louis F. Boyer, deceased, and Louis Boyer, Jr., copartners trading as the Tug Minerva Company for damages to the Gretchen sustained by reason of a collision between that vessel, in tow of the tug Dauntless No. 12, and the barge Interstate No. 8, in tow of the Minerva. The owners of the Minerva have imnpleaded the tug Dauntless No. 12 and its owners, Chris Nielson, Charles M. Miller, Harry W. Miller, Helen Nelson, Grace Taraldsen and Hjordis Johnson, copartners trading as the Dauntless Towing Line. The Interstate No. 8 was not damaged and is not a party to the proceedings.

The court must determine at this time the question of negligence and the party or parties responsible therefor.

 On the basis of the pleadings and additional testimony I make the following findings of fact:

 1. The Gretchen, a scow 255 feet long, 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, without motive power and without steering gear, is owned by the Kieckhefer Container Company.

 2. The Minerva, a tug, is owned by Robert W. Burritt, Elizabeth Boyer, executrix of the estate of Louis F. Boyer, deceased, and Louis Boyer, Jr., copartners, trading as Tug Minerva Company.

 3. The tug Dauntless No. 12 is owned by Chris Nielson, Charles M. Miller, Harry W. Miller, Helen Nelson, Grace Taraldsen and Hjoris Johnson, copartners, trading as Dauntless Towing Line.

 4. The collision occurred on the Chesapeake Bay in the Shad Battery Channel between buoys 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the vicinity of Shad Battery Shoal on the night of September 19, 1942, a clear night with a light wind, at about 10:10 p.m.

 5. The Gretchen was proceeding northeast to Delair, New Jersey, in tow of the Dauntless No. 12 which was secured to the after part of the port side of the Gretchen with about 20 feet of the Dauntless No. 12 extending aft from the stern of the Gretchen.

 6. The Minerva was proceeding southwest to Baltimore, Maryland, having in tow the Interstate No. 8, an oil barge approximately 190 feet in length, 40 feet in width and 12.9 feet in depth. The Minerva was secured to the after part of the starboard side of the Interstate No. 8.

 7. Each tug was in full charge and control of its respective tow.

 8. The Minerva was first sighted by the Dauntless No. 12 about 3 1/2 to 4 miles away, and the Dauntless No. 12 was sighted by the Minerva at least one-half mile away.

 9. No passing signals were blown by either tug until the vessels were between 500 and 1000 feet apart, when the Minerva blew a two blast signal indicating a starboard-to-starboard pass, which the Dauntless No. 12 answered with a three blast signal indicating full speed astern. The port bows of the Interstate No. 8 and the Gretchen came into contact.

 Discussion

 The instant case contains a feature common to many collision cases, that is, the testimony of each side is directly in conflict with that adduced by the other, and the determination of the true facts is difficult. A brief outline of the testimony given by the captain of each vessel involved will be sufficient for this discussion, since the testimony (by deposition) of the men in the crews substantially supports their captains. It may be said at the outset that both captains are mariners of long experience and were familiar with the waters in which they were navigating ...


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