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August 5, 1971

Petition of TUG MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, a Corporation, for Exoneration from, or Limitation of Liability, as Charterer of the TUG D.T. SHERIDAN. SHERIDAN TOWING CO., Inc., as Owner of the BARGE JAMES SHERIDAN
STEAMSHIP HAROLD H. JACQUET, Her Engines, Boilers, Machinery, Etc., and All Persons Having Any Interest Therein and Lexington Transport Corporation

John W. Lord, Jr., Chief Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, JR.

JOHN W. LORD, Jr., Chief Judge.

 This litigation arises out of the collision between the SS HAROLD H. JACQUET and the BARGE JAMES SHERIDAN, which was being towed by the TUG D. T. SHERIDAN, on the evening of December 15, 1965.


 1. Petitioner, Tug Management Corporation, is a Pennsylvania corporation, having its principal place of business at 12 South Twelfth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 1(a). Petitioner was the operator of the Tug, D. T. SHERIDAN (hereinafter Tug), under a bareboat charter from the registered owner, Sheridan Towing Co., Inc.

 1(b). The Tug was a seagoing vessel of three hundred eighty-three gross tons, with a length of 129.9 feet, and a freeboard of twelve to fourteen feet forward and about two feet aft. The house of the Tug was about seven and one-half feet high, with the wheels and controls located therein. The Tug's motor was 1600 horsepower.

 1(c). The Tug carried a Certificate of Inspection issued by the Coast Guard on July 10, 1964, which was in effect on the date of the collision.

 2. Claimant, Lexington Transport Corporation, is a corporation with an office and place of business at 250 Park Avenue, New York, New York.

 2(a). Claimant was the owner of the ship SS HAROLD H. JACQUET (hereinafter Jacquet), a ship of Liberian registry, manned by a Nationalist Chinese crew.

 2(b). The Jacquet was an oil-fired steam turbine tank vessel, five hundred sixty feet in length overall, with a seventy-five foot beam, weighing 13,405 gross tons, with a maximum draft of 23 feet, 2 inches.

 3. Claimant, Sheridan Towing Co., Inc., is a Pennsylvania corporation having its principal place of business at 12 South Twelfth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 3(a). The seagoing Barge JAMES SHERIDAN (hereinafter Barge) was operated under a bareboat charter by Sheridan Transportation Company, which, like Tug Management Corporation, was a separate Sheridan affiliate.

 3(b). The Barge was compartmented, without independent locomotive power, 349 feet 10 inches in length, with a beam of sixty-six feet and a depth of 31 feet 6 inches.

 3(c). The Barge maintained a diesel generator for use in operating its winches.

 3(d). The Barge carried a Certificate of Inspection issued by the Coast Guard in April of 1964, and an amended certificate issued on June 14, 1965, which was in effect at the time of the collision.

 4. On December 15, 1965, American Dredging Company was in the process of deepening an area of the western side of the upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay between Brewerton Channel and Poole's Island Range, pursuant to a contract with the United States Corps of Engineers.

 5. The Dredge PENNSYLVANIA (hereinafter Dredge) was 165 feet in length and 50 feet wide, with a lighted, extended dredging pipe, 700 to 750 feet in length, carrying, at 50 foot intervals, amber marking lights. The body of the Dredge was also lighted. At the point where the pipe submerged were two red lights, mounted one above the other.

 6. The Tug was towing the Barge alongside on a hawser, with the port side of the Tug secured to the starboard side of the Barge, using a bowline, towing line, breastline and stern line to make her fast.

 7. The Barge had discharged in Philadelphia 3000 to 4000 tons of her total cargo of 10,600 tons of phosphate rock, which had been loaded in Boca Grande, Florida.

 8. The cargo was carried in compartments beneath the deck of the Barge, and the remainder was to be delivered to Baugh's Chemicals' dock in Baltimore, Maryland. The six hatches on the Barge rose only four feet eight inches above the deck.

 9(a). The Tug was also equipped with two running lights, green on the starboard side, red on the port, which were mounted atop the wheelhouse, as was a searchlight.

 9(b). The running lights were properly screened, so that they could not be seen across the bow.

 9(c). There was a 12-point white light on the stern, i.e., a light showing only twelve points on the compass behind.

 9(d). The Tug was equipped with a Coast Guard approved lighting switch box, which sounded a buzzer when a bulb burned out. There was also aboard a working air horn and radar.

 10. The Barge carried red and green running lights forward, thirty feet from the bow, eight feet one inch above deck; and two white running lights aft, thirty-one feet from the stern, ten feet above the deck, four feet eight inches apart on a crossarm. The running lights were properly screened, and all lights were visible for five miles on a clear night.

 10(a). The Barge also carried a portable white bow light, which was not displayed.

 10(b). The running lights were mounted in a four-bulb lamp, with an automatic rotating device in the event that one burned out.

 10(c). The lights were battery-operated, and were equipped with a photo-electric cell which automatically turned them on at dusk and off at dawn.

 10(b). Before leaving Philadelphia, the Barge captain, who met the Barge in each port but did not ride with the Tug, tested the lights and replaced each light with five new batteries. Each light was then working when the Barge and Tug left Philadelphia for Baltimore.

 11. The Tug left Philadelphia at approximately two A.M. on the morning of December 15, 1965, proceeding down the Delaware River, through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, assisted by a second tug at that point, arriving in the Upper Chesapeake Bay above Poole's Island Channel at approximately 4 P.M. on the same day.

 12. Throughout the passage, the Tug was made up to the starboard side of the Barge at an angle of 15-20 degrees, with the bow of the Tug above 100 feet forward of the stern of the Barge. This physical positioning was necessary for steering purposes.

 13. In this position, Captain Patrick, master of the flotilla, could see the white stern lights of the Barge, slightly behind the wheelhouse of the Tug.

 14. Although the flotilla was steering a course due south of 180 degrees, the angle of the bow of the Tug on the side of the Barge created a tendency on the part of the Barge to move away, so that its bow heading would become less than 180 degrees due south. When this occurred, it became necessary for the Tug to back and fill in order to regain its position and control of the Barge.

 15. Captain Patrick was the only licensed pilot on the Tug. A licensed pilot is required for the waters of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, with the result that he was required to remain on duty from the time the Tug got underway in Philadelphia until the time of the collision, sixteen hours later.

 16. Captain Patrick was not licensed for the waters below the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

 16(a). About one year before the collision, he had taken and failed the examination for pilotage for the waters of the Upper Chesapeake, where the collision occurred. He had failed to answer correctly questions dealing with "local knowledge", which he said pertained to the waters around Baltimore Harbor, and which he had been told by the testing officer would not be included in the test. He did pass the section dealing with navigation in the waters in which the collision occurred.

 16(b). Local knowledge includes such matters as tides, winds, weather and current.

 16(c). It is not the custom of the testing officer to exclude any matter from the examination. Each testee is given an inclusive list of topics, among which is local knowledge.

 16(d). Captain Patrick failed this portion of the examination due to a lack of knowledge of local conditions, a lack which contributed materially to the collision.

 16(e). Due to a later change in the statute, Captain Patrick was able to qualify, on the basis of past experience and pilotage, as a pilot for these waters without further examination.

 17. The flotilla had been making an average speed of six knots until, about two miles above the Dredge, it slowed its speed to half-ahead, or about three knots.

 18. Further down, the Tug signaled the Dredge for a passing agreement but received no reply.

 19. The Tug cut its engines at a point approximately 200 feet above the Dredge, and drifted almost dead in the water, on the fair ebb tide current of about one-half knot, keeping the flotilla on a southerly course of about 180 degrees by touching the engines slightly ahead or astern.

 20. Coming north from Baltimore, the Jacquet was headed for Buoy No. 12, which marked the northeast entrance to Poole's Island Channel, in water 26 feet deep.

 21. The Jacquet was piloted by a fully licensed Bay pilot, Presley A. Carter, and was making approximately fifteen knots, full ahead, as it proceeded up the Chesapeake Bay.

 22. Speed was reduced from full to half-ahead at approximately 1802 hours, off Tolchester Light, in order to prepare to pass another flotilla. At 1807, the Jacquet reduced to slow-ahead, and the other flotilla was passed.

 23. Captain Carter was not using the radar of the Jacquet for navigational purposes, but it had been used prior to passing this other flotilla in order to ascertain the position of the Dredge and the Sheridan Tug and Barge.

 24. Both visually and on radar, Captain Carter saw, north and west of the Dredge, the Tug Sheridan and its tow. Approaching the Dredge, Captain Carter saw, on the Tug, the green side light, the house lights, and three towing lights, indicating a tow on a hawser. Captain Chen, master of the Jacquet, saw only two white lights in line, and the green running light, and Captain Stillwagon, a coast pilot who docked the Jacquet also saw only the two and one set of lights, indicating to both men a tug with a barge alongside. Captain Carter, whose testimony was available to the Court only through deposition, stated that he might have been mistaken as to the number of lights, but that if he were, there were two visible white lights.

 25. The bridge on which the three men were standing is 24 feet above deck level, so that objects directly in front of the ship must be seen from the wings of the ship. The ...

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