The opinion of the court was delivered by: McGRANERY, District Judge.
1. On April 20, 1949, the libellant, Diamond State Telephone
Company, was engaged in repairing its submarine telephone cable
which extends across the Delaware River from Pigeon Point,
Delaware, to Deepwater Point, New Jersey.
2. In order to carry out this work, libellant chartered the
scow "Acco" from the Wharton Construction Company, the derrick
barge "Contractor" from the Philadelphia Derrick and Salvage
Corporation, and the tug "Adriatic" from respondent, P. F.
3. The "Acco" and the "Contractor" were chartered to hold the
uplifted submarine cable on their decks while the new cable was
spliced into it, while the tug "Adriatic" was chartered chiefly
to run back and forth between the "Acco" and the "Contractor"
with equipment and with libellant's employees and to run
errands for libellant between the two vessels and the marine
terminal in Wilmington, Delaware.
4. About 7:35 P.M. on April 20, 1949, the tug "Adriatic" in the
performance of her designated duties, was attending the scow
"Acco". The "Acco" was lying broadside in the channel of Cherry
Island Range, about two hundred feet east of the center line of
the channel. The "Adriatic" was on the north side of the "Acco"
with her bow heading south to hold the scow against the tide.
5. The derrick barge "Contractor" was about six hundred feet
east of the "Acco" towards the Deepwater Point shore. The
"Contractor" had one end of libellant's submarine telephone
cable across her derrick deck, leading out over her stern and
down into the river, while the other end of the uplifted cable
was lying across the deck of the scow "Acco" extended off the
side of the "Acco" and then hit the bottom of the river, while
the cable on the deck of the "Contractor" extended off her side
at an angle for one hundred feet westward and then hit the
bottom of the river.
6. The night was dark, but visibility was good. The three
vessels were brilliantly illuminated. The "Acco" had twelve
red kerosene lanterns around her guard rail, one red lantern on
top of a nine foot cable reel, and two five hundred watt
floodlights shining on her deck. The "Contractor" had three red
lights in a vertical line in her rigging, with the lowest
approximately twenty-five feet above her deckhouse, two
floodlights shining on her deck and deck lights around her
house. The "Adriatic" had one white mast light, her red and
green running lights and lights around her deck.
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 ...