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United States v. Carroll Towing Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

January 9, 1947

Nos. 96, 97, Dockets 20371, 20372

Opinion

 [*170]  These appeals concern the sinking of the barge, 'Anna C,' on January 4, 1944, off Pier 51, North River. The Conners Marine Co., Inc., was the owner of the barge, which the Pennsylvania Railroad Company had chartered; the Grace Line, Inc., was the charterer of the tug, 'Carroll,' of which the Carroll Towing Co., Inc., was the owner. The decree in the limitation proceeding held the Carroll Company liable to the United States for the loss of the barge's cargo of flour, and to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, for expenses in salving the cargo and barge; and it held the Carroll Company also liable to [**2]  the Conners Company for one half the damage to the barge; these liabilities being all subject to limitation. The decree in the libel suit held the Grace Line primarily liable for the other half of the damage to the barge, and for any part of the first half, not recovered against the Carroll Company because of limitation of liability; it also held the Pennsylvania Railroad secondarily liable for the same amount that the Grace Line was liable. The Carroll Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company have filed assignments of error.

The facts, as the judge found them, were as follows. On June 20, 1943, the Conners Company chartered the barge, 'Anna C.' to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at a stated hire per diem, by a charter of the kind usual in the Harbor, which included the services of a bargee, apparently limited to the hours 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. On January 2, 1944, the barge, which had lifted the cargo of flour, was made fast off the end of Pier 58 on the Manhattan side of the North River, whence she was later shifted to Pier 52. At some time not disclosed, five other barges were moored outside her, extending into the river; her lines to the pier were not then strengthened. At [**3]  the end of the next pier north (called the Public Pier), lay four barges; and a line had been made fast from the outermost of these to the fourth barge of the tier hanging to Pier 52. The purpose of this line is not entirely apparent, and in any event it obstructed entrance into the slip between the two piers of barges. The Grace Line, which had chartered the tug, 'Carroll,' sent her down to the locus in quo to 'drill' out one of the barges which lay at the end of the Public Pier; and in order to do so it was necessary to throw off the line between the two tiers. On board the 'Carroll' at the time were not only her master, but a 'harbormaster' employed by the Grace Line. Before throwing off the line between the two tiers, the 'Carroll' nosed up against the outer barge of the tier lying off Pier 52, ran a line from her own stem to the middle bit of that barge, and kept working her engines 'slow ahead' against the ebb tide which was making at that time. The captain of the 'Carroll' put a deckhand and the 'harbormaster' on the barges, told them to throw off the line which barred the entrance to the slip;  [*171]  but, before doing so, to make sure that the tier on Pier 52 was safely [**4]  moored, as there was a strong northerly wind blowing down the river. The 'harbormaster' and the deckhand went aboard the barges and readjusted all the fasts to their satisfaction, including those from the 'Anna C.' to the pier.

After doing so, they threw off the line between the two tiers and again boarded the 'Carroll,' which backed away from the outside barge, preparatory to 'drilling' out the barge she was after in the tier off the Public Pier. She had only got about seventy-five feet away when the tier off Pier 52 broke adrift because the fasts from the 'Anna C,' either rendered, or carried away. The tide and wind carried down the six barges, still holding together, until the 'Anna C' fetched up against a tanker, lying on the north side of the pier below- Pier 51- whose propeller broke a hole in her at or near her bottom. Shortly thereafter: i.e., at about 2:15 P.M., she careened, dumped her cargo of flour and sank. The tug, 'Grace,' owned by the Grace Line, and the 'Carroll,' came to the help of the flotilla after it broke loose; and, as both had syphon pumps on board, they could have kept the 'Anna C' afloat, had they learned of her condition; but the bargee had left her [**5]  on the evening before, and nobody was on board to observe that she was leaking. The Grace Line wishes to exonerate itself from all liability because the 'harbormaster' was not authorized to pass on the sufficiency of the fasts of the 'Anna C' which held the tier to Pier 52; the Carroll Company wishes to charge the Grace Line with the entire liability because the 'harbormaster' was given an over-all authority. Both wish to charge the 'Anna C' with a share of all her damages, or at least with so much as resulted from her sinking. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company also wishes to hold the barge liable. The Conners Company wishes the decrees to be affirmed.

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159 F.2d 169 *; 1947 U.S. App. LEXIS 3226 **

UNITED STATES et al. v. CARROLL TOWING CO., Inc., et al.

CORE TERMS

barge, bargee, fasts, harbormaster, tier, vessel, damages, deckhand, tug, Harbor, sinking, aboard, decree, broke, cast, one half, chartered, collision, cargo, libel, throw

Admiralty & Maritime Law, Marinas, Duties & Rights, Torts, Transportation Torts, Watercraft, General Overview, Collisions, Business & Corporate Compliance, Admiralty & Maritime, Marina Regulation