The opinion of the court was delivered by: LUONGO
On December 26, 1973, the Steamship William Larimer Mellon ran aground as it was proceeding up the Delaware River in a dense fog. On September 22, 1975, the owner and the time-charterer of the Mellon instituted this action, in which they contend that the grounding was caused by the negligent navigation of the Steamship Ore Mercury, which had proceeded upriver ahead of the Mellon, and of the Steamtanker Maria Venizelos, which was proceeding down the Delaware River.
From November 29 to December 5, 1977, the case was tried to the Court on liability, and at the close of evidence I delivered findings of fact and conclusions of law from the bench. I found that the grounding was caused primarily by the negligent navigation of the Mellon, contributed to, in lesser degree, by the negligent navigation of the Ore Mercury and Maria Venizelos. Expressing those findings in terms of percentages of fault, as required by the Supreme Court in United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., 421 U.S. 397, 44 L. Ed. 2d 251, 95 S. Ct. 1708 (1975), I allocated 70% of the fault to the Mellon, 25% to the Maria Venizelos, and 5% to the Ore Mercury.
Trial on damages was held on January 10-11, 1978. The parties stipulated that total damages resulting from the events on the date of the accident were $740,000, of which $220,000 was caused by the Mellon's efforts to unground. The defendants contended that the ungrounding damages should be charged solely against the Mellon and not allocated among the parties. At the close of the evidence, I again delivered findings and conclusions from the bench, holding that defendants were correct in their contention and that only $520,000 of the damages should be allocated in accordance with the percentages of fault in causing the grounding. I also held that plaintiffs were entitled to prejudgment interest.
Plaintiffs and the Maria Venizelos defendants have now moved for "reconsideration" of some of my findings and conclusions. I interpret their submissions as motions to amend findings and the judgment under Federal Rule 52(b).
Necessarily, the findings and conclusions that I delivered from the bench were rather general. Although I believe that those general findings are sufficient to dispose of this case, in light of the pending motions I shall now set forth the findings and conclusions in a more detailed form, modifying them as appears necessary after a more thorough review of the record. The findings of fact and conclusions of law set forth herein supersede those delivered from the bench.
A. The parties and the ships
1. Plaintiffs are Afran Transport Co., a business corporation with an office and principal place of business in Monrovia, Liberia, and Gulf Oil Corporation, a business corporation with its principal place of business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
2. At all times material to this suit, Afran owned the Steamship William Larimer Mellon, a single-screw steam-powered tank vessel having a length of 753 feet and a beam of 102 feet, 1 inch.
3. At all times material to this suit, Gulf was the time-charterer of the Mellon.
4. The Steamship Ore Mercury is a single-screw steam-powered combination oil and ore carrier having a length of 751 feet and a beam of 102 feet, 4 inches.
5. At all times material to this suit, the Ore Mercury was owned by defendant Universe Tankships, Ltd., a Liberian business corporation.
6. The Steamtanker Maria Venizelos is a single-screw steam-powered oil carrier having a length of 558 feet and ...