engage in anything other than presumably anchorage or departure from the area governed by the party imposing the requirement.
In this case, the evidence is clear that Texaco Trinidad required ships mooring at the SPM buoy to take a pilot -- and for good reason. These buoys, it is quite plain, represent the investment of a considerable amount of resources in their placement, management, and use, as well as a need to accommodate the deep-draft vessels that allow this particular refinery to function. Common sense would suggest that Texaco has an interest not only in the property, but also in the operation of its refinery and the safety of personnel engaged in the delicate and important and often difficult task of fulfilling a mooring operation in such waters.
The record is plain as well that there pilots were considered to be local experts in regard to local conditions. It is this very type of requirement that Homer speaks of. It cannot be said, therefore, that Afran had any choice but to accept the pilot provided by Texaco. Afran was entitled to have a pilot that was prudently equipped and prudently advised, and who functioned in a way that would assure that his local expertise would prevent injury to property or persons associated with the mooring procedure.
The Court does not believe that the fact that Texaco Trinidad is not a governmental entity is dispositive. Indeed many of Texaco Trinidad's interests are the same as those that governmental entities have when compulsory pilotage is considered. The principal interest, of course, is in preventing damage to its own property. That is a direct proprietary interest in having competent pilotage. Secondly, there is the interest in having successful and expeditious operations in mooring so that Texaco Trinidad will gain maximum use from the facilities that are installed, in this instance, the SPM buoy. There is also an interest in preventing injury to persons involved, irrespective of whom those persons are employed by. The interest in preventing injury or death to persons involved in these procedures can be said to be an interest that would support the need by Texaco to have a local expert become the pilot and take over the navigation of a vessel, especially vessels of this size.
Whether Afran Transport Company, through its employees, actually knew of Texaco Trinidad's requirements does not affect the result. Certainly if a pilot were required by law and the captain did not know of that law and took a pilot on anyway, the pilot would nevertheless be held compulsory. His status wouldn't change because of the knowledge of the master. Indeed, in a compulsory pilotage circumstance, it can be said to be likely that a master would invite and want and insist himself or herself on a pilot because of the other considerations the Court has mentioned.
So it is not the knowledge of the master that counts; it is the status of the person who boards as pilot that counts. That status is required by the person who is receiving the mooring or docking operation. It is compulsory whether that requirement comes from law or whether it comes from the manager of the land or the area involved. In this instance, therefore, Pilot James can be said to have been a compulsory pilot.
Pilot James, together with other members of the mooring team from Texaco which the Court has outlined before, were negligent principally by reason of the inability to communicate as the ship approached the SPM buoy. For these reasons, the Court finds that Afran Transport Company is not liable for the negligence of Pilot James or any of the other personnel for whom James was responsible and who can be said to be in the plaintiff's mooring team.
This case is within the admiralty jurisdiction of this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1933. Although there may be an initial presumption of fault against the AFRAN BREEZE for striking a fixed object, that presumption has been successfully rebutted by the existence of plaintiff's own negligence as the Court has outlined above, as well as the negligence of those for whom plaintiff Texaco Trinidad was responsible. The collision was caused by the negligence of Texaco Trinidad, Inc. in failing to properly equip Pilot James, the pilot that Texaco Trinidad selected, and the failure of that pilot to fulfill his duties as leader of the Texaco Trinidad, Inc. mooring team in a non-negligent manner.
Pilot James, from the viewpoint of the parties to this case and under the record in this case, was a compulsory pilot for whose acts Afran Transport Company should not be held liable in personam.
The Court believes that the full astern and emergency full astern engine orders and the various responses that were executed after the vessel had been placed in extremis by the failure of communication between the pilot and the mooring master were or can be said to be evidence of confusion and disorientation between the pilot and Cruikshank by reason of the failure of communication. In respect to this, there is no responsibility of Afran Transport Company or any of its personnel. That is to say, under all the circumstances, the conduct of the master and the crew of the AFRAN BREEZE when they became aware that the vessel was in an emergency circumstance, and all the actions taken, were under all those circumstances reasonable and non-negligent.
The Court does not believe that the plaintiff has fulfilled its burden in proving that any action taken by the vessel could have prevented the collision or that the vessel was in any way unseaworthy, or that it malfunctioned in any way. Accordingly, Texaco Trinidad, Inc. is fully liable for all damages caused by and resulting from the collision of the AFRAN BREEZE with the SPM facility.