Conclusions of Law
(1) The matter in controversy is within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and of this court.
(2) A duty existed on the libellant to moor the barge Darien in a seaworthy and proper manner so that other vessels navigating the Canal in an ordinary and reasonable manner under the circumstances could do no harm to the barge. The libellant was negligent in failing to discharge this duty.
(3) The Coast Guard picket boat CG-38614 was proceeding at a lawful speed under the circumstances.
(4) Under all the evidence in the case, libellant has failed to prove any negligence on the part of the respondent in causing the Darien to break loose from her mooring.
(5) The negligent manner in which the Darien was moored and the improper manner in which the tug Eureka was manuevered after the breakaway were the sole causes of the damage suffered by the tug Eureka.
(6) The respondent is entitled to a decree against the libellant dismissing the libel with costs, in accordance with this opinion.
In the disposition of claims for damages resulting from swells produced by another vessel, it is to be remembered that each case depends upon its own special facts. The Daniel Drew, 6 Fed.Cas. 3, 565, p. 1165; The Ferryboat Columbia, 1937 A.M.C. 881. The general rule, however is: 'Where a vessel properly moored at a dock, at anchor, or not in motion, is damaged by a vessel in motion, the presumption of law is that it was the fault of the one under way; and it is presumptively liable until the contrary is shown, the burden of doing which is upon the vessel under way.' The Rotherfield, D.C., 123 F. 460, 461.
However, before this rule of law is applicable, it must be shown that the vessel was properly moored; and accordingly the question is posed in the instant case as to whether or not the barge Darien was properly moored. 'The mere evidence that damage results from the swells of a passing vessel is not enough to base a recovery upon'. The New York, 2 Cir., 167 F. 315. Just as a duty exists on a moving ship not to throw damaging swells under the circumstances, so does a duty exist on a ship to be seaworthy and moored in such a manner that a situation will not be created whereby the ordinary and reasonable swells created by a passing ship in such a local will result in damage to the moored ship. The LaSavoie, D.C., 157 F. 312; The St. Paul, D.C., 171 F. 606; The Favorita, D.C., 43 F.2d 569, 1930 A.M.C. 1435; The Alexander Hamilton (The Jim & Bill), D.C., 4 F.Supp. 258, 1933 A.M.C. 968. The moving ship is not an insurer, and is not liable for all damages that occur as a result of its swells. Ferryboat Columbia, supra. The evidence, as indicated heretofore in the findings, did not show the Darien was properly moored and hence the above rule of law is inapplicable.
Accordingly, I find that the libellant has failed to prove by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the Coast Guard picket boat CG-38614 was negligently and carelessly navigated, so that it caused unusual swells dangerous to a boat properly moored, or that the tug Eureka received any damage at the hands of the Darien, which was caused or contributed to by the Coast Guard cutter, CG-38614, and the Coast Guard cutter is therefore without fault; that the damages suffered by the tug Eureka were caused by the negligence of the libellant in mooring the barge Darien in an improper and unseaworthy manner by failing to ease the tautness of her lines thereby causing an undue strain thereon, which could have been obviated by slackening of the same by proper supervision. Myrtle-Heina, 1927 A.M.C. 1114; Ormond, 1928 A.M.C. 101; Boston, 1931 A.M.C. 1217; Berengaria, 1933 A.M.C. 111; Shamrock Towing v. N.Y. City, 27 Fed.Supp. 911, 1939 A.M.C. 1076.
Therefore, the respondent is entitled to a decree.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.