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NORSCOT SHIPPING CO. v. STEAMSHIP PRESIDENT

January 29, 1970

NORSCOT SHIPPING COMPANY, Ltd., as owner of the MOTOR VESSEL, NORSCOT, Libellant,
v.
STEAMSHIP PRESIDENT HARRISON, her engines, boilers, etc., and her owners, American President Lines, Ltd., Claimant-Respondent


Wood, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOOD

FINDINGS OF FACT

 WOOD, District Judge.

 1. Libellant, Norscot Shipping Company, Ltd., is a limited business company organized under the laws of the United Kingdom and at all times hereinafter was the owner of the Motor Vessel NORSCOT.

 2. Respondent, American President Lines is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware and at all times hereinafter owner of the Motor Vessel PRESIDENT HARRISON.

 3. The NORSCOT is a tankship 556 feet in length, 73 feet in beam. At the time of the collision, she was drawing 31 feet 9 inches aft and 29 feet 5 inches forward. (N.T. 136, 12-13)

 4. The PRESIDENT HARRISON is a C-3 type cargo vessel 492 feet in length and having a beam of 69 feet. At the time of the collision, the PRESIDENT HARRISON was drawing 11 feet forward, 19 feet 8 inches aft. (N.T. 420)

 5. At 1710, (NORSCOT and PRESIDENT HARRISON bridge time) on May 14, 1961, the vessels collided in Liston Range of the Delaware River. At the time of collision, wind was from the southeast at about 5 miles an hour, the current was ebbing or running toward the sea at about 1.5 knots. Visibility was about 300 feet because of heavy fog. (N.T. 18, 45-7, 659-60, 667-8)

 6. On May 14, 1961, the HARRISON was inbound on the Delaware Bay and River with a destination of Baltimore, Maryland, having arrived in the vicinity of the pilot station off Lewes, Delaware and picked up a pilot at 1320 hours that day. (N.T. 318)

 7. The HARRISON proceeded at various speeds up Delaware Bay, encountering occasional fog requiring speed reductions until or about 1631 hours when her engines were reduced from full ahead to half ahead giving her a speed of approximately 6.4 knots over the ground considering the ebb tide she was meeting. (N.T. 411, 415, 588)

 8. At this time, the pilot was on the bridge accompanied by the master, the officer of the watch, and helmsmen. A lookout was posted on the bow of the HARRISON. (N.T. 21)

 9. As the HARRISON proceeded up Delaware Bay and turned off Cross Ledge to Liston Range the visibility gradually reduced to approximately 300' or less. (N.T. 414)

 10. The HARRISON continued on her course up the Liston Range channel, maintaining a speed of approximately 6 knots, blowing fog signals, meeting and passing various traffic in the other direction, and following another vessel ahead, intending to keep to the left of the channel and give Ship John Light a wide berth. (N.T. 656, 657, 661, 667)

 11. It is common practice among pilots on the Delaware River for upbound vessels to give Ship John Light a wide berth and proceed up on the west or left hand side of the channel. (N.T. 230, 231, 667) Under such circumstances, when downbound traffic approaches Ship John, it is normal procedure for the upbound vessel to move to its right, i.e. to the west or New Jersey side of the channel. (N.T. 245)

 12. At or about 1655 hours, the second mate was relieved by the junior third mate on the bridge as the vessel was approaching the vicinity of Ship John Light. Subsequently, the vessel that the HARRISON was following, the SUN OIL, was observed to be passing a downbound vessel. (N.T. 398, 297, 298)

 14. At or about 1709 hours Ship John Light was passed by the HARRISON, 4/10's of a mile off, and such passing was duly recorded on her chart. (N.T. 663, 671, Ex. L-22)

 15. The HARRISON's pilot then returned to the radar but did not sight the approaching NORSCOT again before the collision which occurred immediately thereafter. (N.T. 678)

 16. Shortly before 1710 hours the mate, standing on the port wing of the HARRISON's bridge, heard a fog signal from another vessel ahead, reported it to the pilot, and then also received a phone call from the ...


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