248 F. 1012 (S.D.N.Y. 1918), The Florence H.

Citation:248 F. 1012
Case Date:April 22, 1918
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Southern District of New York

Page 1012

248 F. 1012 (S.D.N.Y. 1918)


United States District Court, S.D. New York.

April 22, 1918

Page 1013

         H. E. Moss & Co., the owners of the British vessel Mirlo, filed a libel in rem against the steamer Florence H., alleging a collision on the high seas, for which the libel claimed damages. The stipulation upon which the suggestion of record was heard stated that the Florence H. up to August 3, 1917, was under construction at one of the private shipyards of the United States. On that day the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, under the Urgent Deficiency Act of June 15, 1917 (40 Stat. 182, c. 29), requisitioned the Florence H. for national purposes connected with the war and took title by executive order of the President under powers conferred on him by that act. After her completion, the Florence H. was delivered by the Fleet Corporation to the United States Shipping Board, a governmental agency of the United States, and was registered in the name of the United States by the Shipping Board on the 19th day of November, 1917. Subsequently the board chartered the Florence H. to the French government for one round trip voyage from the United States to France. The charter was a demise, and she was manned by a French crew and carried a cargo of food for the French government. Returning from France in ballast, and while still in the possession and control of her French crew, she came into collision with the British steamer Mirlo, owned by the libelants. On her arrival in New York the French government redelivered her to the Shipping Board, which in turn redelivered her to the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation under a charter which likewise constituted a demise. After this delivery she was berthed in the port of New York for a cargo belonging to the French government, which was to be transported from that port to France on behalf of the French government. She remained, however, still in the possession of the Fleet Corporation under the aforesaid charter. The Fleet Corporation was organized under the laws of the District of Columbia in pursuance of section 11 of the Shipping Act, passed September 7, 1916 (Act Sept. 7, 1916, c. 451, 39 Stat. 728 (Comp. St. 1916, Secs. 8146a-8146r)). All the stock is held by the United States Shipping Board, except one share each held by the six trustees of the Shipping Board by virtue of their title.

         In accordance with the prayer of the libel, process was issued from the District Court to the marshal for the Southern district of New York, who, in pursuance of the said process, arrested the steamship Florence H. and put his custodian in charge of her, and thereafter, at the request of the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, the custodian was withdrawn in consideration of a letter by the counsel for the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, agreeing to give a bond to cover the claim of the libelant in the event that the court should sustain jurisdiction against the Florence H. The case in its present aspect, therefore, is to be dealt with upon the assumption that the marshal is now in actual custody of the ship. The United States Shipping Board and the Emergency Fleet Corporation appear by admiralty counsel and suggest upon the record that the ship may not be subject to arrest as in ordinary civil cases. The district attorney for the Southern district of New York likewise appears specially on behalf of the United States and objects to the jurisdiction of the court. Mr. James K. Symmers appears as amicus curiae on behalf of the French government.

Page 1014

         John M. Woolsey, of New York City, for libelants.

         Francis G. Caffey, U.S. Atty., of New York City, appearing...

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