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ALASKA PACKERS ASSN., INC. v. O/S EAST POINT

September 20, 1976

ALASKA PACKERS ASSOCIATION, INC., and McAllister Equipment Leasing Co., corporations, Plaintiffs,
v.
O/S EAST POINT, Official No. 292,791, her engines, boilers, machinery, tackle, and appurtenances, etc., and Queen Fisheries, Inc., a corporation, Defendants. Willard S. FERRIS, Individually and as Trustee for William Bittler, et al., formerly crew members of the F/V BELUGA, Plaintiff, v. O/S EAST POINT, Official No. 292,791, her engines, boilers, machinery, tackle, furniture and appurtenances, In Rem, and Queen Fisheries, Inc., a corporation, In Personam, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BEEKS

 BEEKS, Senior District Judge.

 Early on the morning of August 29, 1973 F/V BELUGA came into collision with O/S EAST POINT while in Alaskan waters at a point near the pass between Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island and Ugak Island. These two consolidated cases are brought by the owner (McAllister Equipment Leasing Co.) and charterer (Alaska Packers Association) of O/S BELUGA for damage sustained to that vessel and the skipper/sub-charterer of BELUGA (Willard S. Ferris) both in his own behalf and as trustee for his crew to recover damages respecting personal effects lost or damaged in the mishap. Defendants in both cases are the EAST POINT and Queen Fisheries, Inc., her owner. I make the following interlocutory findings of fact and conclusions of law reflecting the greater weight of evidence I credit and believe, on the issue of liability solely:

 
FINDINGS OF FACT
 
1. At all times herein:
 
a. EAST POINT was a single-screw crab processing vessel of 995 gross tons, 177.3 feet in length, 30.1 feet in width and 480 horsepower which was built in 1943 and substantially altered and refitted in 1971.
 
b. BELUGA was a single-screw power scow of 164 gross tons rigged for crab fishing, 82.1 feet in length, 26.6 feet in width and 230 horsepower which was built in 1944 and substantially refitted in 1969.

 2. EAST POINT departed Kempff Bay at the southern end of Kodiak Island on the afternoon of August 28, 1973 bound for Kodiak making about 6 knots. Anthony E. Olson was master of EAST POINT at the time. He was licensed by the United States Coast Guard as a chief engineer on vessels to 3,000 horsepower and as a master on vessels to 1,500 tons. His watch commenced 0000, August 29, 1973. He was accompanied on watch by two unlicensed crewmen, John Westcoast and Paul Pederson. These three men were stationed together in the EAST POINT wheelhouse. The collision occurred during this watch.

 3. EAST POINT crewman Paul Vaaga served as mate on the watch immediately preceding Olson's from 1800-2400, August 28. Vaaga was not licensed, although the gross tonnage of EAST POINT was such that a mate was required by law to be licensed.

 4. BELUGA departed the city of Kodiak on August 28, 1973 at approximately 2230 bound for fishing grounds off Dangerous Cape on the southeast side of Kodiak Island. She, too, was making about 6 knots. Willard S. Ferris was her skipper. Dennis McFadden took over the watch at 1000 in relief of Ferris. McFadden stood watch by himself serving as navigator, helmsman and lookout. Neither Ferris nor McFadden were licensed nor required to be licensed.

 5. The night of August 28-29, 1973 was dark and clear with a relatively calm sea and excellent nighttime visibility.

 6. BELUGA was sailing a southwesterly course, about 200 degrees magnetic, along Kodiak Island heading toward the pass between Ugak Island and Narrow Cape when McFadden first became conscious of the approaching EAST POINT. BELUGA, at that time, was about 1 1/2 miles off Cape Greville, and EAST POINT appeared by radar to be several miles distant. McFadden had both visual and radar contact with EAST POINT as the distance closed.

 7. EAST POINT was abeam Dangerous Cape at 0030, August 29 heading approximately 020 degrees magnetic northeasterly toward the passage between Narrow Cape and Ugak Island. Before reaching the spit projecting out from the northwest side of Ugak Island and upon finding its projected course to lie in or near shoal waters on the starboard hand, Olson ordered a course change to approximately 350 degrees -360 degrees magnetic to safely negotiate the spit. Once clear of Ugak Island Olson again ordered a course change to approximately 010 degrees magnetic which course was maintained until the moment of collision. John Westcoast was acting as EAST POINT helmsman throughout these maneuvers.

 8. BELUGA made two subsequent course changes to starboard of 5 degrees each from its aforesaid 200 degrees bearing -- one when the vessels were about 1/2 mile apart and another ...


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