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THE BLUE JACKET, 144 U. S. 371 (1892)

U.S. Supreme Court

The Blue Jacket, 144 U.S. 371 (1892)

The Blue Jacket

No. 241

Argued March 24-25, 1892

Decided April 4, 1892

144 U.S. 371


A collision occurred between a ship and a steam tug while the navigation rules established by the Act of March 3, 1885, c. 354, 23 Stat. 438, were in force. The tug was required to keep out of the way of the ship and the ship to keep her course. The tug ported her helm to avoid the ship, and that would have been effectual if the ship had not afterwards changed her course by starboarding her helm. If the ship had kept her course or ported her helm, the collision would have been avoided. The change, of course, by the ship was not necessary or excusable. The tug did everything to avoid the collision and lessen the damage. The tug had a competent mate who faithfully performed his duties although he had no license. Although the tug had no such lookout as was required by law, that fact did not contribute to the collision. The tug did not slacken her speed before the collision. There was no risk of collision until the ship starboarded, and then the peril was so great and the vessels were such a short distance apart that the tug may well be considered as having been in extremis before the time when it became her duty to stop and reverse, so that any error of judgment in not sooner stopping and reversing was not a fault.

Page 144 U. S. 372

The case of The Manitoba, 122 U. S. 97, distinguished.

The tug was not in fault and the ship was wholly in fault.

The appeal being from the Supreme Court of the Territory of Washington, and that territory having become a state, the case was remanded to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Washington, Act of February 22, 1889, c. 180, 25 Stat. 676, 682, 683, §§ 22, 23, for further proceedings according to law.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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