New York & Liverpool U.S. M.S. Co. v. Rumball - 62 U.S. 372 (1858)
U.S. Supreme Court
New York & Liverpool U.S. M.S. Co. v. Rumball, 62 U.S. 21 How. 372 372 (1858)
New York and Liverpool United States
Mail Steamship Company v. Rumball
62 U.S. (21 How.) 372
In a collision between a sailing vessel and a steamer which took place at sea near the shore of Long Island, where the course of the sailing vessel was converging to the track of the steamer, the sailing vessel being then close-hauled upon the wind, the evidence shows that the steamer was in fault.
The sailing vessel did not change her course, and her whole company, including the master and mate, were on deck.
The rules of navigation are obligatory upon vessels approaching each other from the time the necessity for precaution begins, and continue to be applicable as the vessels advance, so long as the means and opportunity to avoid the danger remain.
These rules require sailing vessels, when approaching a steamer, to keep their course, and steamers under such circumstances, as a general rule, are required to keep out of the way.
Under this rule, the steamer must of necessity determine for herself, and upon her own responsibility, independently of the sailing vessel, whether it is safer to go to the right or left or to stop, and in order that she may not be deprived of the means of determining the matter wisely, it is required that the sailing vessel shall keep her course and allow the steamer to pass either on the right or left, or to adopt such measures of precaution as she may deem best suited to enable her to perform her duty and fulfill the requirement of the law to keep out of the way.
Exceptional cases may be imagined, and where the rule could not be followed without defeating the end for which it was established or without producing the mischief which it was the design of the rule to avert, of course it would not be applicable, and in such a case a departure from it would be both justifiable and commendable.
But this not being such a case, the steamer must be responsible for the loss occasioned by the collision.
The cases decided by this Court referred to.
The case is fully stated in the opinion of the court.