Admiralty – Collision – Last Clear Chance

The City of Calcutta anchored in the navigation channel as an emergency precaution on a foggy night. The vessel was hit by a scow in tow of the tug Brooklyn, whose navigator had observed the anchored ship for ten minutes. The scow sank and its owner sought to hold the City of Calcutta liable for failure to get underway after the fog had lifted. Held, libel dismissed. Even if the Calcutta was remiss in not moving, no liability could attach because the Brooklyn had the last clear chance of avoiding the accident. Arundel Corp. v. The City of Calcutta, (E.D. N.Y. 1958) 172 F. Supp. 593. In another case, libellant’s two tugs were trying to free their grounded barge by weaving and swinging across the navigation channel. Respondent’s tug collided with the barge in an attempt to pass the other two tugs. The district court divided the damages equally because libellant was at fault in blocking the channel and respondent was at fault in trying to pass without signals when the danger was clear. On appeal by libellant, held, decree affirmed. Last clear chance is applicable in admiralty but not where the negligence of both parties continues up to the moment of the accident. Cenac Towing Co. v. Richmond, (5th Cir. 1959) 265 F. (2d) 466.