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AMERICAN DREDGING CO. v. CALMAR S. S. CORP.

May 18, 1954

AMERICAN DREDGING CO.
v.
CALMAR S.S. CORP. CALMAR S.S. CORP. v. AMERICAN DREDGING CO.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CLARY

This action arose out of a collision between the Liberty-type steamship Calmar and an anchored mud scow at 11:43 1/2 P.M. on the night of November 30, 1951, which occurred on the Horseshoe Bend of the Delaware River, approximately opposite the north end of Mustin Field, a part of the Philadelphia Naval Base. From the pleadings and proof I make the following

Findings of Fact

 1. Libellant, American Dredging Company, is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, its principal office and place of business being located at 12 S. 12th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 2. Respondent, Calmar Steamship Corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, has an office and place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Pier 27 North Wharves.

 3. At all times material hereto libellant was the owner of steel dump scows Nos. 102, 103 and 114 (measuring 118 ft. x 34 ft. x 10 ft.) and dump scows Nos. 122, 123 and 125 (measuring 144 ft. x 40 ft. x 11 1/2 ft.).

 4. At all times material hereto respondent was the owner and operator of The Calmar, a Liberty-type general cargo vessel, approximately 423 ft. long by 57 ft. wide. Its draft was 7 ft. 6 inches forward and 15 ft. 10 inches aft.

 5. At the time of the collision at 11:43 1/2 P.M. on the night of November 30, 1951, the sky was clear. Visibility was 3 miles with a west wind of 9 miles per hour. The tide was flood, having turned at approximately 10:30 P.M. with an upstream current of 1.9 knots per hour. In the Horseshoe Bend a flood tide with a current of 1.9 knots per hour sets toward the Jersey shore.

 6. Libellant is engaged in dredging operations in the Delaware River and Bay, both under Government and private contracts. As part of its operations, it customarily moored scows at gathering points along the river, its method of operating being to take loaded scows from the dredging operations to an anchored buoy and there moor them. Other tugs would take the loaded scows from the mooring point to the disposal ground and return with empties. These empties were then taken by the first tug or tugs from the mooring point back to the scene of the dredging operations to be refilled. From time to time, as its operations required, and for many years past, the libellant had placed such a mooring buoy on the Horseshoe Bend in the Delaware River between channel buoys 46A and 48 to the east of the line of th channel buoys and on the Jersey side of the ship channel. (The linear measurement between the two said buoys, 46A on the south and 48 on the north along the east line of the ship channel is approximately 2800 feet.) The mooring buoy involved in the present action was situate approximately 800 feet north of buoy 46A and at least 200 feet east of the east boundary of the ship channel.

 7. That part of the Delaware River which is referred to in the testimony in this action involves the Mifflin Range, the West Horseshoe Range, Horseshoe Bend, and East Horseshoe Range. The ship channel on the Mifflin Range which ends at the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, immediately to the south of the Philadelphia Naval Base, is 800 feet wide. Upon leaving the Mifflin Range, a vessel bound for Philadelphia is required to make approximately a 45-degree turn to starboard to center on West Horseshoe Range, where the channel width remains at 800 feet. The West Horseshoe Range ends opposite Mustin Field and Horseshoe Bend leads into the East Horseshoe Range. At Horseshoe Bend the channel gradually widens to 1000 feet and a vessel bound for Philadelphia is required to make a gradual change of course of about 60 degrees to port on to the East Horseshoe Range. The point of collision was at approximately the middle of Horseshoe Bend, as indicated on libellant's Exhibit I, sheet 10, of U.S. Engineer Survey of 1943 (Delaware River, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Bombay Hook, Delaware).

 8. The aforesaid mooring buoy situate as aforesaid had been in place at the point above designated and had been used by the libellant for at least a few weeks, possibly a few months, prior to the date of the collision. The particular mooring buoy involved was a red cylindrical can, approximately 6 ft. in diameter and 4 1/2 ft. high, unlighted, and secured to a 'patent' type anchor weighing approximately 3 tons by a 1 1/2' chain approximately 175 ft. long. Two bridles attached to the buoy would be secured to two of the scows at the mooring point and remaining scows at the point were then lashed to the two secured scows and to each other.

 9. On the evening of November 30, 1951, scows Nos. 102, 103, 114, 122, 123 and 125 were attached to the mooring buoy. Their arrival at the mooring buoy was as follows: Scow No. 103 was moored by libellant's tug Hayward at 11:50 P.M. of the previous day, November 29, 1951; Scows Nos. 122 and 125 were moored by libellant's tug Herron between the hours of 11:30 A.M. and 2 P.M. on November 30, 1951; Scow No. 123 was moored by libellant's tug Emma R at 5:55 P.M. on November 30, 1951; Scow No. 114 was moored by libellant's tug Emma R at 8:25 P.M. on November 30, 1951; Scow No. 102 was moored by libellant's tug Emma R at 11 P.M. on November 30, 1951.

 10. At the time of the collision, the above described mud scows, six in number were secured to the mooring buoy and to each other and comprised a flotilla set up as follows: There was a front tier of three mud scows, two of which were attached to the bridles of the mooring buoy, and a third scow secured alongside. There were two scows in the second tier attached to the scows immediately in front of them and to each other, and there was a third tier of one scow attached to the scow immediately in front of it. If the flotilla should be considered in the nature of a right triangle, the altitude would comprise the length of three scows in tandem and the base would comprise the width of three scows abreast. Because of the variance in testimony (no two witnesses agreeing), I cannot fix the exact position of each numbered scow in the flotilla. I do find, however, that the flotilla on the flood tide was tailing generally northward and approximately parallel to the easterly line of the channel. Scow No. 103 was moored to the mooring buoy and was in the first tier nearest the channel. Because of the conceded damage to them I find that scows Nos. 123 and 102 were the other two scows comprising the first tier, but I cannot state the position of either in the first tier. The evidence demonstrates and I find that the first and second scows of the first tier were secured to the bridles attached to the mooring buoy and that the remaining four scows were secured each to the other and adequately secured for purposes of anchorage and storage.

 11. The testimony as to the presence of lights at the time of the collision is uncertain and extremely confusing. From all the conflicting evidence I find that at the moment of collision only one Dietz oil lantern was burning, which lantern was situate on the deck in the middle of scow No. 125 in close proximity to the coaming which surrounds the mud pockets and on the same side as the dumping shaft.

 12. The steamship Calmar en route from Brooklyn, New York, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reached Overfalls Light vessel at 5:12 P.M. on November 30, 1951. From that point the navigation was in charge of Captain Ragnvald Kramer, a master mariner and a licensed pilot for the Delaware River and Bay. It passed Reedy Island at 9:14 P.M., Deepwater (Wilmington) Bridge at 10:05 P.M., Marcus Hook at 10:42 P.M., and at 11:35 P.M. at full maneuvering speed passed Philadelphia Navy Yard. Thereafter and up until the time of the collision its engine movements were as follows: at 11:35 P.M. passing the Philadelphia Navy Yard, full speed (over the ground 11.9 knots); 11:40 P.M. half ahead; 11:41 P.M. stop; 11:42 P.M. slow ahead; 11:43 P.M. full ahead; 11:44 P.M. stop; 11:46 P.M. half astern. The times set forth above were recorded by the Third Assistant Engineer who was at the engine room telegraph and throttle. The times were taken by glancing at the clock and recorded to the nearest minute, fractions of a minute being disregarded. Entries in the deck log on the other hand were made to the nearest half minute and the deck log shows the following engine movements: 11:40 P.M. half speed and stop engine; 11:42 P.M. slow ahead; 11:42 1/2 P.M. full speed ahead; 11:43 P.M. stop engine; 11:43 1/2 hit barge No. 103; 11:46 P.M. half speed astern.

 13. The steamship Calmar, as it navigated the Delaware River from the Mifflin Range and on to and through the West Horseshoe Range immediately to the east of the Philadelphia Naval Base was, as aforesaid, in charge of Captain Kramer, pilot. The vessel carried the usual navigating lights which were lighted, red port, green starboard and white mainmast and foremast lights. On the bridge, in addition to Captain Kramer, were the Master of the vessel, the Third Mate of the vessel, and a helmsman at the wheel which was then under manual operation. An able-bodied seaman, Richard Thomas Shanahan, was on lookout duty at the bow of the vessel. The lookout station was connected by telephone to the bridge. In addition thereto his equipment included a bell for warning purposes.

 14. As the steamship Calmar proceeded upriver on the West Horseshoe Range opposite the Philadelphia Naval Base at 10 knots through the water, 11.9 knots over the ground, it ...


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