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The W. E. Gladwish, The F. B. Thurber and The Francis King.

seen, the tugs were not stopped and no efforts made to avoid the danger; and (5.) that, after the Gladwish and the Thurber arrived, the tow was not divided and a part given to each tug to take on by itself. These will be considered in their order,

(1.) As to not making a harbor. The master of the barge, by electing to go back with the King, when he knew that ice would probably be encountered on the way, in legal effect assumed, for the barge and her cargo, all the risks of towage in the ice, not caused by the neglect or unskilful navigation of the tugs. The contract was for such a degree of caution and skill as was required for towage under such circumstances. There was no obligation to return to New Haven, or seek some other harbor of refuge, simply because ice was found in the way. All parties anticipated, when they started, that ice would be found, and that, for some part of the distance, the dangers incident to towage uuder such circumstances would be encountered. The object was to get through such ice as they might meet, not to wait for it to melt. The tugs undertook to bring to this work such prudence and such nautical skill as was ordinarily required in such navigation. More was not contracted for, and more was not expected.

When the ice was reached, it became necessary to decide whether to lie by or go on. This involved the exercise of judgment as to what ought to be done under the circumstances. A mere mistake is not enough to charge the tugs with any loss which followed. To make them liable, the error must be one which a careful and prudent navigator, surrounded by like circumstances, would not have made.

The facts are, that the weather was fine, the sun warm, and the ice apparently yielding. There was no wind, and nothing seemed to be in the way of going on but the melting ice, much broken, and with many openings through which the tow might, to all appearances, be taken in safety. The King, which was then alone, had come through the same or like obstructions the day and night before, with a tow of loaded boats, and there was nothing whatever to indicate that

The W. E. Gladwish, The F. B. Thurber and The Francis King.

a return voyage, with the tow taken on at New Haven, might not be made with equal safety. Propellers and steamboats had been for some time passing and repassing without serious damage, and every day the navigation seemed to be improving. In view of these facts, I cannot believe that ordinary prudence required an abandonment of the voyage for the time being, by lying up, or seeking a harbor. The tug was commanded by a competent master, and the captain of the barge was an experienced boatman. No objection was made by any one to going on, and it is evident that no person connected with the tow considered it necessary to stop. The progress made was slow and difficult, but all seemed to think there was no way but to keep on and do the best that could be done.

(2.) As to the length of the hawsers. It is not easy to tell, from the evidence, precisely what the length was, but that it was not at the time believed to be unsafe or unnecessarily long is shown by the fact that no one complained of it before the accident. And, in this connection, the conduct of the master and owner of the Humphreys must not be over. looked. He had long experience and had been often towed through the Sound. His barge had been the head boat from the start. He had been watching the progress of the tow from the time it came into the ice. He was in a position to see if there was anything wrong either in the arrangement of the boats, or the management of the tug, and, it is impossible to believe, that, if he had considered the hawsers too long, he would not, in some form, have made known his dissatisfaction. I am satisfied, from the evidence, that the length was not materially increased after the Gladwish and the Thurber took hold; and, down to that time, the hawser had certainly done its work well. All the boats had been brought in safety a long distance, through crooked channels and difficult passages. Under these circumstances, it seems to me clear, that there could have been no such error in judgment, in this particular, as to make the tugs liable.

(3.) As to the speed. It is impossible to say at what pre

The W. E. Gladwish, The F. B. Thurber and The Francis King.

The ac

cise rate the tow was moving, but it is certain that the engine of the King was stopped, and that of the Thurber slowed down to half speed; that the Gladwish found it difficult to use her full power, on account of the choking of some part of her machinery by the ice; that the channel, most of the way, was narrow and filled with broken and floating ice; and that the tide was against the tow. With all these difficulties, it seems to me impossible that the general speed at the time was such as to be unsafe. The judgment of witnesses in such matters, formed long after the event, and not based upon anything which specially attracted attention at the time, is rarely to be depended upon. It is always safer to look at the facts as they are known to have occurred, and judge from them.

(4.) As to avoiding the ice that inflicted the injury. After a careful consideration of all the evidence, I am satisfied the collision which caused the loss was not with fixed ice, but with a large cake of ice which was itself in motion. cident happened while the tow was in the vicinity of the propellers Barstow and City of New Bedford. Precisely how far they were away, is left somewhat in doubt, but, notwithstanding some conflict in the evidence, it seems to me clear that the intervening ice was not solid or stationary, but broken and floating. There undoubtedly were large pieces mixed with the mass, but none of it was what could be denominated fixed ice. The Barstow, until she came to a full stop, was working her way along and up against the solid ice. This would not have been necessary, if, as is contended, there had been a large field of solid ice, two or three hundred feet in width, between her and where the tow was to pass. The City of New Bedford passed the Barstow and the tow, by working her way through the intervening ice to the channel the tow had left. This indicates, beyond all doubt, that, while the pieces may have been packed closely together, the mass was not solid. Such being the case, it is easy to see, that a propeller, in passing along, would set the pieces, to some extent, in motion. Either the propellers or the tow had to move, in

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The W. E. Gladwish, The F. B. Thurber and The Francis King.

order to get by. When the Barstow first came up, some por. tion of the tow was in the narrow part of the channel, where it was unsafe to undertake to pass. The wide part of the channel, where she was lying by, was not very long. In the language of some of the witnesses, it appeared as though an opening had been made there for boats to pass. To get out of the way, she worked herself up against the solid ice. In the meantime, the tow was passing, and, when the City of New Bedford came along, it had got so far out of the narrow channel beyond, that she deemed it safe to keep on without stopping. The Barstow was willing to let her get by, as she was a larger and stronger vessel, and better fitted for opening the way, and the Barstow could follow in her wake. It is not

, possible to tell, from the evidence, precisely when, or where, or how the piece of ice which inflicted the injury was set in motion ; but it is clear to my mind, that it was connected in some way with the movements of one or the other of these propellers. The testimony is so conflicting as to make it impossible to locate the propellers with reference to the tow at the time the collision took place, or to determine precisely what the Barstow was doing; but it is certain, that the City of New Bedford was moving somewhere in the vicinity, at a speed of six or seven miles an hour, and that, at some time not long before, the Barstow had been working her engine so as to get away from the tow as it was approaching. There was no other known cause for the displacement of the ice at the time, and the conclusion is, therefore, irresistible, that it must, in some way, have been done by the propellers. At this time, the tugs were moving cautiously, and there was nothing to indicate danger from the quarter it came. So far, I can see no fault in the management of the tugs.

The moving cake of ice which inflicted the injury was seen from the King before the collision took place, and it only remains to consider whether the tugs were in fault for not avoiding it after this discovery was made. There was not time enough, after the discovery, to stop the Humphreys altogether, and it does not seem to me that the additional

The W. E. Gladwish, The F. B. Thurber and The Francis King.

headway produced by the tugs not stopping, was sufficient to cause the loss. If the tugs had been stopped, it is likely the result would have been the same. The only thing to be done was, if possible, to turn the ice away from the barge, or the barge from the ice. It will scarcely be contended that there was time enough to do this, from the tug. The ice did not come within reach from her, and, even if she had been loose from the other tugs, she could not have backed down soon enough to do any good. If the captain of the barge had been at his wheel, he might possibly have been able to steer away from the approaching danger; but, unfortunately, he had just at that moment been called to his supper, and was not in a place where he could attempt any such movement. For this, certainly, the tugs are not responsible, and, on the whole, I have been led to the conclusion that the tugs are free from blame under this allegation of fault.

(5.) As to not dividing, and, in this connection may be considered the further complaint, presented on the argument, that, when the three tugs were brought together, no one man was placed in command of the whole.

Neither of these complaints is set forth specifically in the libel, and I cannot find that they are at all supported by the evidence. Certainly, some one person should be put in com.

. mand, and the presumption is that this was done. Not a particle of evidence is found to the contrary. In the absence of such evidence, the law implies that what ought to be done was done.

So far as dividing the tow is concerned no witness has been examined on the subject, and the complaint seems to be based on theory rather than proof. It is certain the tow was not divided ; but, in the absence of any testimony showing that it ought to have been done, I cannot hold that the judgment of the experienced men who acted on the facts as they actually appeared at the time, was so clearly wrong as to make it a fault. Towing in sections would not be likely to reduce the speed. True, each tug might in that way more easily control its own movements; but it is far from certain that


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