7. At or about 7:35 P.M., the master of the "Adriatic" noticed
a vessel, which later proved to be respondent, Atlantic
Refining Company's tanker, the S.S. "W. C. Yeager", approaching
upstream. The "Yeager" was about three thousand feet away and
was proceeding on a course directly toward the "Adriatic" and
8. When the "Yeager" was about two thousand feet or more away
from the "Adriatic", the captain of the tug blew a combination
of a danger signal and a signal for a starboard to starboard
passing four shorts and two long blasts, to warn the "Yeager"
of the danger ahead on the tug's port side and to signal her to
pass starboard to starboard.
9. The "Adriatic's" signal was the first signal exchanged
between the vessels. The "Adriatic" repeated the danger signals
and the starboard to starboard passing signals continuously six
or seven times for a period of five minutes.
10. The "Yeager" disregarded the "Adriatic's" signals and
continued on her course directly toward the "Adriatic". She
finally scraped alongside the "Acco" and hit libellant's cable
with a tremendous impact, thereby severing the cable.
11. The captain of the "Yeager" saw the lights of the
"Adriatic" and "Acco" when he was between three and four miles
away. He did not stop his engines until he was eight hundred
feet away from the "Adriatic", when he put his rudder hard left
in an attempt to pass to the starboard of the "Adriatic".
12. The "Yeager" was given ample warning by the "Adriatic's"
signals that there was danger ahead on the "Adriatic's" port
side and the "Yeager" had sufficient time to avoid the cable if
she had either stopped and investigated or passed to the
starboard side of the "Adriatic".
13. The "Yeager" passed on the New Jersey side of the "Acco"
with an initial clearance of fifteen feet of open water between
the vessels. As the tanker came in contact with the cable, the
"Acco" was whipped around and grazed against the side of the
14. As a result of the collision between the "Yeager" and the
cable, certain damage was caused to the "Acco" and its
equipment and the cable was damaged at the point of collision
and also where the cable was secured to the decks of the "Acco"
and the "Contractor".
15. The reasonable cost of repairing the damage to the cable
caused by the collision was the sum of $3,185.37.
16. The absence of the lights prescribed by the Pilot Rules for
Inland Waters (33 CFR (1949 ed.), Sec. 80.22, p. 122) upon the
"Acco" and/or "Adriatic" in no way caused or contributed to the
collision or the resultant damage. The brilliant illumination
of the scene of the collision, together with the sample warning
given the "Yeager" forecloses the possibility that additional
lights would have prevented the accident.
Respondents P. F. Martin Co., Inc. and Martug Towing Co. insist
that libellant exercised "complete authority and control" over
the "Acco"; that libellant ordered the "Acco" and the
"Adriatic" to remain in the channel on the night of the
accident, knowing that neither vessel had the proper night
lights; and that libellant refused an offer by the master of
the "Adriatic" to erect proper lights. The libellant, for its
part, strenuously contends that it exercised no control
whatever over the navigational features of the repair
operation. We deem the issue immaterial, and do not decide it.
We rest rather upon the rule that the omission of proper lights
is disregarded as an element of fault where their display quite
obviously could not have prevented the accident, and there was
other light in abundance. See, e.g., The Redwood, 9 Cir., 1936,
81 F.2d 680; Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. v. Smith, 5 Cir., 1950,
179 F.2d 672.
Conclusions of Law
1. This Court has jurisdiction of the subject matter of this
case and of the parties.
2. The respondent, Atlantic Refining Company, is solely
responsible for the damage to libellant's cable for the
(a) The "W.C. Yeager" disregarded the tug "Adriatic's" signals.
(b) The "W. C. Yeager" failed to stop and reverse her engines
upon hearing the tug "Adriatic's" signals.
(c) The "W. C. Yeager" failed to exercise proper precautions
after seeing the lights of the "Adriatic" and the "Acco".
3. The libellant, Diamond State Telephone Company, is in no way
responsible for the collision or damage. Neither was caused or
contributed to by the libellant, its employees, servants, or
4. Respondents P. F. Martin, Inc. and Martug Towing Company are
not responsible for the collision or damage. Such collision and
damage were not caused or contributed to by the respondents P.
F. Martin, Inc. and Martug Towing Company, their employees,
servants or agents. The libel against them is dismissed.
5. The absence on the "Acco" and/or "Adriatic" of the lights
prescribed by the Pilot Rules for Inland Waters in no way
caused or contributed to the collision or damage of the cable.
6. Judgment is given in favor of the libellant against
respondent Atlantic Refining Company in the sum of $3,185.37,
with interest thereon from April 20, 1949 at the rate of 4% per
annum and costs.
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