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(District Court, S. D. New York. March 27, 1905.) SALVAGE-AMOUNT OF AWARD-TOWING DISABLED VESSEL AT SEA.
The freight steamer Santurce, on a voyage from Porto Rico to New York, when in the vicinity of the Bahamas became almost wholly disabled by the breaking of her propeller blades, and, after proceeding with sails for three days, in answer to her distress signals was taken in tow by the Rosewood on a voyage from Portugal to New Orleans, with a cargo of ore, and towed to Nassau, a distance of about 240 miles. The service delayed the Rosewood about 244 days, and she was subjected to some danger, owing to unfavorable weather. The time was early in January, and the Santurce was in a position of considerable peril. Each vessel was of a net tonnage of about 1,100. The Santurce, with cargo and freight, was of a value of $210,000; and the Rosewood, $70,000. Held, that the Rosewood was entitled to a salvage award of $10,000, in addition to disbursements; 25 per cent. to go to the officers and crew.
[Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 43, Cent Dig. Salvage, 88 80-83.
Salvage awards in federal courts, see note to The Lamington, 30 C. C. A. 280.] In Admiralty. Suit to recover salvage. Convers & Kirlin and John M. Woolsey, for libellant. Wing, Putnam & Burlingham, for claimant.
ADAMS, District Judge. This was an action brought by Richard C. Oliver, master of the steamship Rosewood, against the steamship Santurce, to recover salvage compensation, with disbursements, for services rendered to her and cargo, in the vicinity of the Bahama Islands from January 4th to 6th, 1905.
On the 18th of December, 1904, the Santurce arrived at Porto Rico from New York with two propeller blades gone and upon the advice of surveyors there, she loaded only a small cargo of sugar, about 363 tons, for the return voyage, while her carrying capacity was 2000 tons. She was trimmed about 6 feet by the stern. Her draft was 7 feet 3 inches forward and 13 feet 10 inches
On the 28th of December, she started for New York, under easy steam, aided by her fore and aft sails. She carried a spare propeller between decks. On the 31st of December, when in latitude 26° 32', longitude 68° 59', the greater portion of all of her propeller blades was carried away. The wind being favorable, she then set four regular stay sails and try sails, measuring 2873 feet, and used her awnings to make four additional sails, measuring 2125 feet. She changed her course towards Nassau, seeking an opportunity in some harbor to ship the spare propeller, the master intending, however, to keep away from dangerous locations and if assistance were not obtained, to attempt to reach the coast of the United States. On January 1st she made 93 miles, on the 2nd 82 miles, and on the 3rd 61 miles. In the afternoon of the 3rd, the Rosewood was sighted and signalled by a rocket, the Santurce burning distress signals. The Rosewood approached to within about a half of a mile and stopped, whereupon the Santurce's chief mate went to the former in a sinall boat.
The Rosewood was bound from Portugal to New Orleans, with a cargo of ore. She was deeply laden, having at the beginning of the voyage, a freeboard of but 1 foot and 10 inches. She sighted the signals of the Santurce about 5.30 o'clock P. M. and bore down upon her, and received the chief mate of the Santurce. An agreement was then made to tow the latter to Nassau.
Both vessels were cargo steamers of about the same dimensions. The Rosewood was 259 feet long. Her tonnage was 1737 gross and 1104 net. The Santurce was 255 feet long. Her tonnage was 1836 gross and 1122 net. The latter was a single screw vessel equipped with a four bladed propeller, 12 feet in diameter, the length of the blade having been about 5 feet and the diameter of the boss about 2 feet. The value of the Santurce was $175,000, her cargo $34,178.78, and her freight $1093.50. The value of the Rosewood was $70,000.
After the agreement to tow was made, no steps were taken that evening to carry it into effect, owing to darkness coming on and the weather being boisterous, but in the morning of the 4th, a steel wire bridle having been prepared on the Rosewood, a buoy from her to the Santurce was floated down, by means of which a 12 inch manilla hawser was run between the vessels. The tow started, about 8.30 A. M. very slowly at first, the Rosewood's engines making only 15 or 16 revolutions per minute, but gradually increasing to 30 revolutions at 11 o'clock and to 32 at 1 o'clock P. M. Her full speed of 54 revolutions was not attained until the next day. There is some difference between the vessels with respect to the positions they were in when the towage began, the Rosewood putting the longitude at 73° 23' and the Santurce 73° 35'. This variance would make a difference of about 11 miles but being so slight, it is not important to determine which was correct.
It is claimed by the libellant that the weather was stormy and the sea rough on the 4th, 5th, and 6th, and by the Santurce that they were moderate. It is probable that the views of the witnesses were somewhat influenced by their respective interests, as well as by the difference in the freeboards of the vessels, the Santurce being so high out of the water that the waves seemed small to those ;. on her, while the deep immersion of the Rosewood tended to increase the estimates of her crew as to the severity of the weather. The testimony shows that the winds were high and the sea rough but nothing occurred to do any damage, except some wear on the towing apparatus, and the weather may be regarded as not very perilous to either vessel. It is no doubt true that towing on the ocean is always attended with more or less risk to both vessels and the existence of some danger must be considered, even though it turns out to have been slight.
During a part of the towing the wind was fair and part of the time somewhat adverse. The testimony in this respect shows that the services of the Rosewood were timely and necessary, though it is possible that the Santurce might by her sailing power have avoided any danger of stranding by keeping away from the vicinity of the Bahama Islands, but she would have been subject to it
from easterly storms on the coast of the United States. Her master, however, recognizing the necessity for assistance, caused distress signals to be exhibited and quickly availed himself of the Rosewood's services.
The vessels reached the vicinity of Nassau about 11:15 A. M. the morning of the 6th and anchored. Subsequently the Rosewood took on 15 tons of coal, communicated with her owners and, late in the afternoon, proceeded on her voyage to New Orleans. The Santurce secured the services of a tug and was taken into the inner harbor, where she was tipped by the shifting of cargo, her broken propeller was removed and the spare one shipped by her own men, with the aid of carpenters from the shore making floats. The work was completed on the 17th of January and her cargo being properly stowed, she started for New York the 19th, reaching there the 24th.
Nothing of importance occurred during the towing to Nassau. The Rosewood lost of actual time in getting on her original voyage again about 274 days. On her voyage to New Orleans, she was bound on a course which would have brought her in the vicinity of the Great Abaco Light, or the Hole in the Wall, therefore, she did not deviate very much in rendering the service. Many of the elements of meritorious salvage services, however, are present in this case. They were rendered with promptitude, and some skill and energy exhibited. There was some risk in rendering the service owing to unfavorable weather, as well as to the hazard which always accompanies an undertaking of this kind. Property of considerable value was rescued from a position of some danger. It is urged that the Santurce was in the track of commerce and doubtless would have received other assistance. No other efficient vessels, however, came to her aid and if they had, would doubtless have been entitled to as much salvage compensation as will be granted here.
Another feature of the case is the claim that the propeller of the Santurce still retained some efficiency. It is estimated that 10% of the original power remained but it is obvious that there was not enough to give the navigating officers any confidence in the steamship's ability to take care of herself, hence the exhibition of distress signals and the resort to the first available assistance. It is probably true that the steamship was almost completely disabled, as her log shows, so far as her own motive steam power was concerned in any adverse weather and it satisfactorily appears that her sailing power was dependent upon favorable winds, which were uncertain. Her propeller was used during the sailing and towing but apparently more for the purpose of allowing it to turn with a view to removing resistance than from any actual aid it would afford in the progress, although the log says in one place it was to assist the sails. When the Rosewood was asked for aid, she was advised that the Santurce was helpless. When aid is rendered upon such a representation, it is questionable whether the party making it is not estopped from denying that such was the condition. However that may be, I regard that the Santurce was,
for the purposes of the case, in practically a helpless condition and in great need of the Rosewood's assistance. There is no testimony to show that there was any available anchorage among the reefs of this vicinity and it was doubtless advisable for this reason also that the Santurce should have aid.
The Rosewood was no doubt subjected to some danger in the ocean towing, as alluded to above, and the evidence shows that the thrust block had been started and the tail and shaft worn down, apparently owing to the pressure involved in the towage. The distance towed was about 240 miles. The Rosewood is entitled to be reimbursed for the actual
expenses incurred. It appears by agreement, that certain
expenses at Nassau should be allowed: They amounted to $216 44 Other claims are made on behalf of the Rosewood as follows: Detention due to towage, on the basis of 21/4 days at demur
rage rate provided for by charter £30 per day..... $327 37 Removing bolts on warping chocks started by the strain of towage
15 00 Damage to thrust block.....
60 00 Estimated delay in making engine room repairs, 3 days @ $145.50 ....
436 50 Expense of replacing new wire hawser, injured in towage.. 50 00 It is claimed that the steamship had expected to arrive in
New Orleans on the 7th of January and she did not reach there by reason of these services until several days later, and thus was forced to employ men to hastily put up shifting boards in order to save a cancelling date of charter, which would otherwise have been done by the crew on board ...
... 185 00 The figures given in connection with many of the items are mere estimates and several of the claims are not in a condition to be allowed as disbursements or as actual losses. The only ones legally proved are $216.44, $327.39 and $185, making $728.81, which the owners of the Rosewood are entitled to recover. The remainder of the items can not be specifically allowed, owing to deficiency of proof, but the fact that the Rosewood was liable to be put to some expense in these particulars may be considered in making the salvage award.
The question of the proper amount of salvage to be allowed is a difficult one. The libellant asks for from $12,000 to $15,000 in addition to the total of the items given above. The claimant urges that $50 per hour while towing ($2,500) and $25 per hour while lying by (say $500), or $3,000 in addition to the disbursements of about $400 according to the claimant's contention, and an allowance of $500 to $600 to the master and crew, so that the entire recovery shall not exceed $4,000, will be ample.
Numerous authorities have been cited on both sides, but none closely in point. Many of them were passenger carrying vessels and not applicable here for that as well as other reasons.
The libellant urges that a good basis on which to start a com
pensation would be to take a number of similar values and compute the rate allowed for the towage of $1,000 worth of value for one mile and submits the following list of cases: Name.
Miles. Thousands. Award. Rate, California
15,000 .23 36 Fed. 563. Benison
200 7,000 .583 36 Fed. 793. Tancarville
87 8,000 .255 45 Fed. 903. Wellington
100 12,500 .833 52 Fed. 605. Akaba
130 30,000 1.775 54 Fed. 197, 4 C. C. A. 281. Great Northern
100 10,000 .80 72 Fed. 678. Dupuy de Lome
110 18,700 1.76 60 Fed. 921, 9 O. C. A. 292. Chinese Prince
5,000 .285 61 Fed. 697. Phoenix
160 20,000 .417 62 Fed. 487, 10 C. C. A. 506. Florence
8,500 .252 71 Fed. 527, 18 C. C. A. 240. Alaska
150 7,500 .20 75 Fed. 430. Catalina
200 2,400 .20 105 Fed. 633, 44 C. C. A, 638. Erin
26 4,000 .64 36 Fed. 712.
It is urged that The Florence and The Tancarville, supra, cases in this district, are fair analogies to be used as guides in the present case and that an average between the two, .253, taking the distance towed here as 240 miles and the value as $210,000, would bring this award to $12,751.20.
The claimant of the Santurce also submits a list of cases as follows:
Values not over $200,000.
Award. Saragossa $100,000 4 hours, 65 miles...
900 1 Ben. 551, Fed. Cas. No.
12,334. Saragossa 100,000 34 hours
9,000 1 Ben. 553, Fed. Cas. No.
12,335. Rebecca Clyde
70,000 9 hours, lost 24 hours...... 4,000 5 Ben. 98, Fed. Cas. No.
11,621. E. B. Souder..
200,000 18 hours, 100 miles...... 3,000 7 Ben. 550, Fed. Cas. No.
4,455. 15 Blatch. 185, Fed. Cas.
Reduced on appeal to...... 1,000 No. 4,458. Rosedale
100,000 2 hours, and passengers for20 Fed. 447.
1,000 Swiftsure 185,000 Fog, 15 miles
4,000 29 Fed. 462. Erin
26,000 240 miles. Dangerous coast 4,000 36 Fed. 712.