22 F. 715 (E.D.N.Y. 1884), The Montana

Citation22 F. 715
Case DateJuly 31, 1884
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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22 F. 715 (E.D.N.Y. 1884)








United States Circuit Court, E.D. New York.

July 31, 1884

William Allen Butler and Thomas E. Stillman, for libelants and appellees.

Franklin A. Wilcox, for claimants and appellants.

The three cases named above were tried and argued together. In the first case (Insurance Co. of North America v. Liverpool & Great

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Western Steam Co.) the court (BLATCHFORD, Justice) made and filed the following findings of fact:

The respondent, the Liverpool & Great Western Steam Company, Limited, is a corporation organized under the laws of Great Britain, and in the month of March, 1880, and for a long time prior thereto, was the owner of the steamer Montana. The libelant, the Insurance Company of North America, has been for many years, and still is, a corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the state of Pennsylvania, for transacting the business of insurance, including marine risks. During said time it had an agency in London, England, for the adjustment and settlement of losses, and the losses referred to herein, except the losses on the Logan and Preston shipments of grain, were adjusted by said agency, and were paid through it in London. The Montana was an ocean steamer built of iron, and performed regular service as a common carrier of merchandise and passengers between the ports of Liverpool, England, and New York, in the line commonly known as the Guion Line. By her and by other ships in that line, the respondent was such common carrier. On the second of March, 1880, the Montana left the port of New York, on one of her regular voyages, bound for Liverpool, England, with a full cargo, consisting of about 2,400 tons of merchandise, and with passengers. She stopped at Queenstown on the afternoon of the twelfth of March, and thence proceeded on her voyage. She passed Tuskar rock, on the extreme south-eastern portion of Ireland, at about 8 o'clock in the evening of the twelfth of March, and thence took a course up and across the Irish channel. The course she took would obviously have carried her outside of the range of the South Arklow light on the east coast of Ireland, but, with the winds, tides, and currents as they were that night, she passed within range of that light, and about nine miles off, at 9:45 P.M. On passing the South Arklow light, the next light which those in charge of the navigation of the Montana expected to make was the South Stack light, on the coast of Wales, at the entrance of Holyhead bay. The master of the Montana was on the bridge, and in charge of her navigation.

The light-house on South Stack carried two lights. One, the high light, was about 170 feet above high water. It was white in color, and exhibited in all directions at sea, with a range of from 20 to 30 miles in clear weather. It was a revolving light, making one complete revolution in six minutes, and it showed a white flash light every minute. The other light was also white. It was about 40 feet above high water, and was a semi-revolving light, exhibiting every minute and a half in all directions between E.N.E. and W. by N. Its range in clear weather was from three to four miles, but it was regularly lit only in foggy or thick weather. Both of these lights were lit and burning all through the night of March 12th. A fog-bell was regularly sounded at South Stack from 10 o'clock in the night of March 12th until 6 o'clock in the morning of March 13th. The bell weighed two and a quarter tons, and was operated upon by a hammer weighing about 96 pounds, which struck the bell on the outside at intervals of 15 seconds, and was worked by means of clock-work and a caloric engine. The sound was a powerful one, and its range was from three to four miles. The high light on the South Stack was established in 1809, and has ever since been regularly maintained. The fog-bell had been established for about 20 years, and has since then been regularly sounded in foggy weather. About E.N.E., magnetic, from South Stack and distant about one mile therefrom was a fog-gun station, known as North Stack. The fog-gun station had been established about 20 years, and from midnight of March 12th until 4 o'clock in the morning of March 13th the fog-gun was fired regularly every 10 minutes. The gun was a 24 pounder, and was each time charged with three pounds of powder and a large junk wad, to give extra sound, the range of the sound being between five and six

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miles, when the fog was thick, with the wind, and about seven miles when the fog lifted. The fog-gun station, since it was established, has been regularly maintained, and the fog-gun fired regularly in foggy weather. About two miles E., magnetic, from North Stack was the Holyhead Breakwater light-house. This light-house was at the outer end of Holyhead Breakwater, and it carried a fixed red light at a height of from 60 to 70 feet above high water, with flashes every seven and a half seconds. The range of the light in clear weather was from three to four miles, and the range of the flash was about 14 miles. The light was established in 1873, and has since been regularly maintained. At the Breakwater light-house was a fog-bell weighing about 500 pounds, which was operated upon by two hammers, worked by clock-work, and striking the bell on the outside three times in quick succession, at intervals of 15 seconds. The range of the sound was from a mile and a half to two miles. The bell was established in 1873, and was regularly rung in foggy weather. It was in operation from midnight of the twelfth of March until 5 o'clock in the morning of the thirteenth of March. About five miles N.N.E., magnetic, from Holyhead Breakwater light-house, and across Holyhead bay, was the Skerries light-house. The Skerries light-house was about N.E., magnetic, from North Stack light-house, and distant therefrom between seven and eight miles. It was situated on a small island about two miles off Carmel Head, and about two or three miles N.N.W., magnetic, from Church bay. It carried a stationary white light between 80 and 90 feet above low-water mark, exhibiting in all directions at sea and in Holyhead bay, with a range of about 16 miles. It was burning all through the night of March 12th. It was established between 70 and 80 years ago, and has been regularly maintained since. There was at Skerries light-house a fog-horn or siren, worked by two powerful caloric engines at a pressure of 40 pounds to the square inch. The sound made was shrill and powerful, and had a range of eight miles in foggy weather, and the sound was regularly given from 10 o'clock at night of March 12th until half past 4 o'clock in the morning of March 13th, at intervals of three minutes. This fog-horn or siren had been established for several years, and it has been regularly maintained ever since.

All through the night of March 12th, until 5 o'clock in the morning of March 13th, a fog overspread the land surrounding Holyhead bay, and extended at times and to some extent into the bay and out to sea. The proper course of the Montana was to keep three or four miles off the land at the South Stack, and on a course about N.E. by E., magnetic, until she had the Skerries abaft her beam, and then to take a course about E. by S., magnetic, to Liverpool. There was a westerly variation of about two points between magnetic courses and true courses in the Irish channel and adjacent waters. The Montana, on a course about N.E. by E., magnetic, passed within a short distance of South Stack light-house, and saw the high light there between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning of March 13th. It came into sight, bearing about S.E. by E., and about one point forward of the starboard beam of the Montana. Her officers expected to see it at a distance of about 20 miles off, bearing from E.N.E. to N.E. by E. When they saw it first they thought it to be 15 miles off, and they remained of that opinion. It passed out of sight abaft their beam, they supposing it was hidden by the horizon. The master of the Montana did not ascertain by cross-bearings (which he might readily have made) the distance at which he was from the light. He lost the light because it was shut out from him by a fog which intervened between it and the Montana, and thence he continued with his engines working at full speed, and giving the Montana a speed through the water of about 14 knots an hour, and on an E. 3/4 S., magnetic, course, to which he had changed, which took him direct into Holyhead bay, until after half past 2 o'clock. Before this time a man had been stationed at the fog-whistle of the Montana, who regularly blew it. At about half past 2 o'clock the master

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of the Montana heard the fog-gun on North Stack off his starboard quarter, abaft his starboard beam, and he thereupon changed the course of the steamer again to N.E. by E., magnetic, but he continued his engines at full speed until 2:45 A.M., at which time the engines were put at half speed, which gave the steamer a speed through the water of between nine and ten knots per hour. Five minutes later the shore loomed up through the fog on the starboard bow, and orders were given to slow and stop the engines, and to put them full speed astern. But before these latest orders could be executed, the Montana ran ashore at Clegyr Point, in Church bay. After leaving Tuskar, and up to 1 o'clock in the morning of March 13th, the Montana was running with a flood-tide. Then there was slack water, and she afterwards encountered an ebb-tide, which ran from three to four knots an hour. At no time that night were any soundings taken on board the Montana, though soundings would have indicated to her master that he was running rapidly on to the shore. The lights at...

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