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DIAMOND STATE TEL. CO. v. ATLANTIC REF. CO.

May 24, 1952

DIAMOND STATE TEL. CO.
v.
ATLANTIC REFINING CO. et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGRANERY

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. Martin, Inc.

 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.

 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 'Yeager'.

 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 ...


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