UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
December 16, 1957
Matter of the Petition of TERMINAL TRANSPORT COMPANY, as owner of THE PATCO, her engines, etc., and Charles T. Banks, demise charterer of The Patco, in a cause of limitation of, or exoneration from, liability. TERMINAL TRANSPORT COMPANY, as owner of THE PATOIL,
THE ATLANTIC DEALER, her engines, etc., and The Atlantic Refining Company, Respondents. PENNSYLVANIA INDUSTRIAL CHEMICAL CORPORATION, as owner of cargo aboard The Patoil, v. THE ATLANTIC DEALER, her engines, etc., and The Atlantic Refining Company, Respondents
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD
These actions arise as a result of a collision between the tanker, Atlantic Dealer (owned and operated by The Atlantic Refining Company), and the barge, Patoil (owned by the Terminal Transport Co.), which was then being towed by the tug, Patco (operated by Charles T. Banks, individually and trading as Banks Towing Line as bareboat charterer, but owned by Terminal Transport Co.). A second barge, Patterson No. 3, was also being towed by the tug Patco bow first on the starboard side of the tug. The barge Patoil (fully loaded with a cargo of low pressure distillate owned by the Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corporation), was being towed stern first on the port side of the tug.
At the time of the collision, the flotilla was proceeding down the Delaware River, bound for Chester, and the tanker was proceeding in the opposite direction bound for Fort Mifflin with a full cargo of crude oil. The collision occurred in the Tinicum Range at about 3 o'clock A.M. on May 22, 1952. It was dark but clear with unlimited visibility for lights. The tide was ebbing with a speed of about 1 1/2 knots and there was no appreciable wind. There was no other traffic upon the river at this point which in any way interfered with the maneuvers of the two units. Their lights were first visible to each other approximately 1 1/2 to 2 miles away.
The Court, after trial, examination of the pleadings, and consideration of briefs, makes the following
Findings of Fact
1. The parties in the above captioned cases (and certain others which were consolidated with it for trial) are as follows:
(a) Terminal Transport Co., owner of the tug Patco, the barge Patoil and the barge Patterson No. 3. (The interest of Terminal Transport Co. has been assigned since this litigation was instituted; the libellant's interest in No. 145 of 1953 has been marked of record to the use of Spencer B. Downey, Jr. and Christine A. Hoefer, attorneys in fact for stockholders of Joseph M. Patterson & Co., Inc.)
(b) Charles T. Banks, bareboat charterer and operator of the tug Patco.
(c) Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corporation, owner of a cargo of low pressure distillate aboard the barge Patoil.
(d) The Atlantic Refining Co., owner and operator of the tanker SS Atlantic Dealer.
2. The physical characteristics of the vessels involved in the casualty which gave rise to the above litigation were as follows:
(a) Atlantic Dealer, 504 feet long, 68 feet wide, with a maximum draft of 30.6 feet, 10,900 gross tons, fully loaded with a cargo of crude oil, equipped with radar which was in good operating condition but not used at any material time. She also had a course recorder in good operating condition whose time record was the same as or not more than a minute faster than the bridge clock and whose course recorder was either accurate or showing an error of not more than one degree low. When loaded and proceeding full ahead against a 1 1/2 knot tide, if the engines are put full astern, it takes between 2 and 3 minutes to stop the tanker.
(b) Tug Patco, 68 feet long, 20 feet wide, 105 gross tons, fully manned, equipped and in all respects seaworthy and fit for the service in which she was then engaged.
(c) Barge Patoil, 110 feet long, 30 feet wide, 307 gross tons, loaded with a cargo of low pressure distillate. This vessel had no propelling or steering machinery.
(d) Barge Patterson No. 3, 155 feet long, 35 feet wide, 556 gross tons, without cargo. This vessel had no propelling or steering machinery.
3. The physical conditions at all times material herein were as follows:
(a) The tide was ebbing with a speed of about 1 1/2 knots.
(b) It was dark, but clear, with unlimited visibility for lights.
(c) The characteristics of the ranges of the river with which we are concerned are as follows:
(1) Billingsport Range has a ship channel 800 feet wide, with a cut-off on the north side of the downriver end as this range joins the Tinicum Range.
(2) Tinicum Range has a ship channel 800 feet wide, about 3 miles long, with a course heading of 92 or 272 degrees. In addition to the ship channel, there was an area with a width of 400 feet, both north and south thereof, with sufficient depth of water for the vessels concerned herein, at all times when they were navigating with respect to each other.
(3) Eddystone Range has a ship channel 800 feet wide, with a cut-off on the south side as this channel joins the Tinicum Range, further enlarging the width of the ship channel. It is approximately one mile long with a course heading of 64 or 244 degrees.
4. The tug Patco with the barges Patoil and Patterson No. 3 left Billingsport bound for Chester, at 0245 on May 22, 1952. The flotilla was made up with the tug in the middle and the two barges on her sides, forming an inverted 'V' with the stern of the tug extending aft of the sterns of the two barges. The Patoil was on the port side, towed sterned foremost; the Patterson No. 3 was on the starboard side, towed bow foremost. The loaded barge on the port side tended to drag the flotilla to port; it was necessary for the tug to carry about 10 degrees right rudder to make good a straight course. Therefore the heading of the flotilla could not be changed as readily to starboard as to port.
5. The Atlantic Dealer arrived at the Delaware Breakwater on the evening of May 21, 1952, and proceeded up the river under the con of her master. At all material times her engine speed, according to deck and engine bellbooks, was as follows:
Deck Bellbook Engine Bellbook
Time Order Time Order
0240 Full ahead 0239 1/2 Full ahead
0247 Half ahead 0247 Half ahead
0301 Full ahead 0300 Full ahead
0310 Slow ahead 0310 Slow ahead
0311 Stop full astern 0311 Stop
0311 1/2 Full astern
0311 1/2 Emergency full
0312 Stop full astern 0312 Stop full astern
0313 1/2 Half ahead
0314 Stop 0314 Stop
0314 1/2 Half ahead
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