The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918. Page: 74
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250 FEDERAL REPORTER
This testimony, considered with reference to the interest of the wit-
nesses and the manner in which it was delivered, is, without other con-
siderations, persuasive that the vessel did not sink because of the in-
flow of water through the seams of the rudder port. But there are
other facts in the case which are not compatible with the libelant's the-
ory that the vessel sank by filling from the rudder port leaks. These
concern the claimant's theory of the sinking.
From evidence that was not disputed or else was decidedly prepon-
derating, the following facts were established: The pier to which the
"Transit" was moored had a number of fenders arranged along its
side. Each fender was made up of a cluster of piles, standing out
from the pier, to which heavy oak planking, vertically arranged, was
bolted. The planking was sawed off about two feet above low water.
The vessel was docked in the evening on the flood tide, with her
midship directly opposite a fender:, It was low tide at 2:32 A. M. at
Governors Island. Slack water lasted but a little while, the tide turn-
ing to flood at the pier at about 3 A. M. The guard of the vessel amid-
ships was sufficiently low to move under and be caught by the over-
hang of the fender at low water. The tide on the turn to flood tended
to set the vessel against the pier. Within one and one-half hours after
low water (and within one hour after she had been pumped out), the
vessel had a list toward the pier as though caught by a fender and
held there against the rising tide; the starboard rail, which was twelve
inches above the deck, was under water; the starboard deck was
awash; the port rail was high out of water; and water was running
down the starboard coal bunker hatch in considerable volume and
with sufficient force to wash the coal out of the bunker. (The coal in
the port bunker was found undisturbed.) The vessel thus filled and
sank, but in sinking she moved against the set of the tide and in the
direction of the list of her hull and finally came to the bottom on an
even keel six or eight feet away from the pier.
The claimant maintains that the proper inference from these facts
is that the vessel sank, not by filling from leaks in her rudder port, but
by being caught and held by a pier fender against the rising tide until
she listed and filled. On being raised, the vessel showed no marks of
contact with the fender' bottom. This, however, was spongy or slimy.
No one knows what caused the vessel to sink, for no one saw the
cause operating. The cause, therefore, must be inferred from the
facts. The dominant facts are two: First, that the vessel leaked;
second, that she listed. The certain inference is that she filled in con-
sequence of one or the other. Aside from the testimony bearing di-
rectly on the question of the size and the effect of the leaks, which, as
we have said, inclines against the libelant, the fact of the vessel's list
is wholly incompatible with the theory that she filled from leaks. The
leaks were in the rudder port, through which the water seeped and
flowed into the bilge. As openings from the hold into the bilge were
at all times maintained on each side of the keelson by keeping off eight
inch planks, water leaking into the bilge would naturally pass through
the bilge openings -and rise gradually in the hold, seeking its own level,
and would cause the vessel, not to list, but, gradually to sink on an
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The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918., legislative document, 1918; Saint Paul, Minnesota. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38821/m1/89/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.