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THE DONBASS

August 7, 1947

THE DONBASS


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BOWEN

I agree with the Commissioner that the salvage services here performed were of a relatively high rank. And except as to the amount of the awards and except as to whether or not certain items uncompensated by the Commissioner should be compensated, the Court adopts and makes by this reference a part of this Court's decision the opinion and report of the Commissioner filed herein June 24, 1947.

With respect to whether, as claimed by libelant, the Commissioner erred in his views expressed concerning the effect of the purported abandonment, the Court wishes to point out that no matter whether the Commissioner was correct or not, the Commissioner's action in that respect does not affect this Court's action. The reason that is necessarily so is that the character of the salvage services rendered here was of so relatively high rank that it, in my opinion, would not affect the Court's views as to the amount of the awards, no matter if the Court disagreed with the Commissioner and, contrary to the Commissioner's view, held that the purported abandonment was valid.

 In view of all the proceedings in this case of which the Court knows, and in view of the testimony before the Commissioner and in view of the Commissioner's opinion, I do not feel, as to the amounts of the salvage awards, that there is any great importance to be attached to that purported abandonment of the vessel to the salvors. If it was the best possible abandonment, it could not, in my opinion, make these salvage services any higher in rank than they are, but it could not make them high enough in rank to entitle the salvors to an award of all of the funds realized from the sale of the salvaged property.

 It seems to me that the rank of the salvage services is just as high without the purported abandonment, coming at the time that it did come, as it might have been if the purported abandonment had come at some other time. But I think the Commissioner, who has filed a very able and well-reasoned opinion, took too conservative a view of the work of these salvage services, especially those performed by the members of the crew of the Puente Hills, and I feel that the Commissioner was incorrect in the view expressed by him concerning certain disallowed expenses of the Puente Hills.

 I, as the Trial Judge before whom all the court proceedings in this case, prior to the appointment of the Commissioner, have been heard, am personally aware of all of such proceedings and the information disclosed thereby concerning the issues in this case, and I believe such prior court proceedings give some light which the Commissioner did not have. Considering all of those proceedings, the opinion and report of the Commissioner, and all the files and records herein, this Court does award to the United States of America, intervening libelant, as owner of the S.S. Puente Hills, for its expenses necessarily incurred on account of the salvage operations, the following: Wages paid to the S.S. Puente Hills' crew, $ 6,490.35; additional fuel consumed, $ 2,576,08; food consumed by S.S. Puente Hills' crew and passengers during salvage operations, $ 1,164.58; radio messages, $ 221,76; effects issued to the survivors of the Donbass by purser of the S.S. Puente Hills, $ 106.90; 22 days' subsistence furnished by S.S. Puente Hills to Donbass survivors, $ 494; shipyard repairs for windlass, shaft, etc., $ 3,302; miscellaneous repairs, $ 2,342; materials supplied by the United States, $ 2,160; materials consumed in repairs necessitated by salvage operations $ 1,660.94; -- all of which expense items so allowed to the United States of America being the total sum of $ 20,518.61; and

 This Court does further award to intervening libelant United States of America for salvage services (including all other expenses not included in the foregoing specially allowed expense items), $ 20,000, the same general award as that allowed by the Commissioner, -- the total aggregate sum of all of the foregoing allowances to intervening libelant United States of America being the sum of $ 40,518.61. This total award and each and all of the component items thereof shall supersede and take the place of any and all awards allowed by the Commissioner to intervening libelant United States of America.

 The Court awards to the officers and crew as and for general salvage the sum of $ 20,000, and to the officers and crew who participated in boarding and working upon the salvaged property, in the course of the salvage operations, as additional awards above their participation in the general award for salvage services to the officers and crew, the following special awards: Captain W. E. Campbell, commanding officer of the S.S. Puente Hills, $ 2,000; John F. Mason, Second Assistant Engineer, $ 500; T. W. Heisholt, Chief Officer, $ 500; John B. Worden, the War Shipping Administration Official, $ 500; A. E. Kozlowski, Jr., Third Assistant Engineer, $ 500; W. R. Berry, Deck Maintenance man, $ 500; G. Mitchell, able-bodied seaman, $ 500; A. C. Echols, able-bodied seaman, $ 500; C. A. Kelly pumpman, $ 500; and Jerry Bradbury, Pharmacist Mate, $ 250. $ 6,250 is the total allowed to the crew members, and the grand total, $ 66,768.61. As stated in this paragraph, these awards shall be in lieu of the corresponding awards allowed by the Commissioner.

 The undersigned Commissioner having heretofore held hearings pursuant to notice given, and having rendered his opinion based upon the evidence and exhibits all as referred to in his certificate as shown in the record herein, does not make the following findings of fact, and render the following as his report. The Commissioner finds that the following are reasonable and just awards to be made to the several parties named from the proceeds of the sale of the cargo and stern section of the S.S. Donbass, to wit: To the United States of America Intervening Libelants, owner of the S/S Puente Hills Awarded as expenses $ 10,065.84 Awarded for salvage services, including other expenses 20,000.00 $ 30,065.84 To officers and crew, general salvage award 15,000.00 To the following named officers and crew as additional awards above their participation in the general award for salvage services to the officers and crew: Captain W.E. Campbell, Commanding Officer of the S/S Puente Hills 1,000.00 John F. Mason, Second Assistant Engineer 250.00 T. W. Heisholt, Chief Officer 200.00 John B. Worden, the War Shipping Administration Official 200.00 A. E. Kozlowski, Jr., Third Assistant Engineer 200.00 W. R. Berry, Deck Maintenance man 200.00 G. Mitchell, able-bodied seaman 200.00 A. C. Echols, able-bodied seaman 200.00 C. A. Kelly, pumpman 200.00 To Jerry Bradbury, Pharmacist Mate for extraordinary services in attending the birth aboard the S/S Puente Hills of Titania Perkiny 100.00 To The Winslow Marine Railway & Shipbuilding Company 1,000.00 To Walton Brothers Timber Company 2,093.80 To Pacific Towboat Company 5,000.00 Total Awards $ 55,909.64

19470807

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