[I]Currently in a Bridge Resource Managment course at GLMA, and I have to present a case study of a casualty. [/I]
I have a very obscure, but significant high seas casualty (April, 1867) that may be of interest. It resulted in litigation that went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and led ultimately, to the standardization of the use of navigation lights on the high seas by all maritime trading nations. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.
The case was the collision of the [B]SV Berkshire[/B] (US, New Orleans for Havre), Captain Benjamin Berry with [B]RMS Scotia[/B] (UK, pax, Liverpool for New York) Commodore Charles Henry Evans Judkins. The Berkshire’s owners (Paul Sears, Reuben Hopkins, James Smith, all of Massachusetts) sued the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Ship Company (aka Cunard Line) for the loss of their sailing vessel. The case was ultimately adjudicated by the US Supreme Court in favour of Cunard in December, 1871.
There were no casualties, but the collision ultimately led, in part, to the development of what is commonly called the “rules of the road”.
Here is an extract from my account of the incident. I have underlined the pertinent section.
[B]Having departed Liverpool 6 April (1867) SCOTIA was proceeding at 13 knots under a clear, starlit sky on Thursday, 11 April.
At 1:50 A.M. during the middle watch, the port paddlebox lookout
reported to the officer of the deck, the chief officer,
a ship bearing two points on Scotia’s port bow. At first, the chief officer thought the unknown ship was a steamer, hull down on the horizon. In fact, the vessel was the full-rigged ship BERKSHIRE, of Boston, Captain Benjamin F. Berry, master. [/B][/I][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][I][B] had departed New Orleans for Havre, France, 6 March, with 2,200 bales of cotton.
On board Berkshire, the chief mate had the watch. Under the orders of Captain Berry, [/B][/I][U][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][/U][I][B][U] was showing only a single white light in her bow, hung from the anchor stock[/U]. Captain Berry, to conserve
lamp oil, was not using red and green sidelights
denoting port and starboard, as required by
u.s. law. (SCOTIA, on the other hand, did have sidelights.)
From a distance, [/B][/I][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][I][B] looked like a steamer, so Scotia maneuvered appropriately for a crossing situation. When it became evident that Berkshire was closing, not crossing, SCOTIA put her helm to port to avoid her, slowed engines to halfspeed,
and then stopped them.[/B][/I]
Citations are: 81 U.S. 170, '188; 20 L. Ed. 822, 826; 14 Wall. 170.
My article originally appeared in the Nautical Research Journal ofthe Nautical Research <st1><st1:city w:st=“on”>Guild</st1:city>, <st1:country-region w:st=“on”>Cuba</st1:country-region></st1>, NY.<o></o> [U]Royal Mail Steam Ship <st1>SCOTIA</st1>, Cunard’s Last Paddle Liner, 1862-1876[/U][B], [/B]Parts 1 – 4, & Addendum. Volume 47, # 1, 2002, & following.
Hope this is of help.
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