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Colonial Cases

Steamer Nord Kap v. Steamer Sandhill, 1894

[shipping, collision]

Steamer Nord Kap v. Steamer Sandhill

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
July 1894
Source: The Times, 30 July 1894

 

THE STEAMER NORD KAP v. THE STEAMER SANDHILL.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople in Vice-Admiralty.

   Sir Walter Phillimore, Q.C., and Mr. H. Stokes appeared for the appellants; Mr. Aspinall, Q.C., Mr. Stewart Moore, and Mr. Butler Aspinall for the respondents.

   The arguments were heard a short time since before a Board consisting of Lord Watson, Lord Macnaghten, Lord Morris, Lord Shand, and Sir Richard Couch, when judgment was reserved.

   LORD MACNAGHTEN, in now giving their Lordships' judgment, said that the collision between the two vessels occurred in the Bosphorus after midday on Sunday, February 12, 1898.  The Nord Kap was a Danish steamship about 250ft. in length.  The Sandhill was a British steamship of 1,335 tons register.  The length of the Sandhill was not stated in the evidence nor was the tonnage of the Nord Kap.  It was assumed that the two vessels were of about the same length and tonnage.  The two vessels entered the Bosphorus from the Black Sea about 112.30 a.m., the Nord Kap on the Asiatic side, the Sandhill on the European side and a little in advance.  Both vessels were making for Kavak Bay for the purpose of obtaining pratique and taking a pilot on board.  Kavak is on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, immediately below Kavak Point, which is about one mile from the entrance from the Black Sea.  There is a quarantine establishment there.  All vessels bound for Constantinople, as those vessels were, were required to obtain pratique at Kavak Bay.

   The Sandhill was coming down the Bosphorus at half-speed.  Finding that the Nord Kap was gaining upon her the master of the Sandhill put on full speed and then, when he had got a lead of about two lengths, he slacked speed again and the Nord Kap, going a little faster, somewhat lessened the distance.  On nearing Kavak Point both vessels seemed to have eased and then stopped their engines.  A current sets through the Bosphorus from the Black Sea.  There was no evidence as to the strength of the current at the rime of the collision.  It was assumed to be running at about the rate of two miles an hour - an estimate probably below the mark.

   The position of the vessels at Kavak Point seemed to have been this: - The Nord Kap was still on the Asiatic side about two lengths from the shore.  The Sandhill was about a length and a half from thee Nord Kap on her starboard bow and about a length in advance.  Neither vessel had much way on, both intending to bring up in Kavak Bay.  But the Nord Kap was moving, perhaps, a little faster than the Sandhill.  The Sandhill then starboarded, meaning to cross the bows of the Nord Kap and to select her own position in the bay regardless of the situation of the Nord Kap.  The Nord Kap also starboarded, also meaning ton keep the inside position, and moved her engines two nor thee revolutions to get steerage way.  Then, finding that there was no room to go inside and that the Sandhill was actuality crossing her bows, she reversed her engines. But before she could get any stern way she ran into the Sandhill about the fourth hatchway and both vessels were injured.

   The acting Judge, who had not the assistance of nautical assessors, found that the Nord Kap alone was to blame.  Their Lordships' opinion was that neither vessel could be absolved from blame.  Each vessel was taking up the most favourable position.  The view of the master of the Sandhill was that as he had reached Kavak Point before the Nord Kap he was master of the situation.  "I did not notice her," he said, "we don't take a following steamer in consideration; we look out ahead.  She looks out for herself."  In crossing the bows of the Nord Kap he executed a most dangerous manoevre - a manoevre rendered doubly dangerous by the proximity of the land, the set of the current, and the fact that neither vessel had on bit much steerage way.  The Sandhill was to blame in the first instance.   But their Lordships were also of opinion that the master of the Nord Kap was not free from blame.  If he had not been son intent on cutting out the Sandhill and had reversed at once when the object of the Sandhills's manoevre was, or ought to have been, apparent to him, the probability was that thee collision would have been avoided.

   Their Lordships thought that the order of the Consular Court should be discharged, that both vessels should be pronounced to have been at fault, and that the causes should be remitted to the Consular Court for the purpose of ascertaining damages upon that footing, and that there should be no costs in the Court below or on the appeal to that Board.  Their Lordships would, therefore, humbly advise her Majesty accordingly.

The Times, 30 July 1894

THE STEAMER NORD KAP v. THE STEAMER SANDHILL.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople in Vice-Admiralty.

Sir Walter Phillimore, Q.C., and Mr. H. Stokes appeared for the appellants; Mr. Aspinall, Q.C., Mr. Stewart Moore, and Mr. Butler Aspinall for the respondents.

The arguments were heard a short time since before a Board consisting of Lord Watson, Lord Macnaghten, Lord Morris, Lord Shand, and Sir Richard Couch, when judgment was reserved.

LORD MACNAGHTEN, in now giving their Lordships' judgment, said that the collision between the two vessels occurred in the Bosphorus after midday on Sunday, February 12, 1898.  The Nord Kap was a Danish steamship about 250ft. in length.  The Sandhill was a British steamship of 1,335 tons register.  The length of the Sandhill was not stated in the evidence nor was the tonnage of the Nord Kap.  It was assumed that the two vessels were of about the same length and tonnage.  The two vessels entered the Bosphorus from the Black Sea about 112.30 a.m., the Nord Kap on the Asiatic side, the Sandhill on the European side and a little in advance.  Both vessels were making for Kavak Bay for the purpose of obtaining pratique and taking a pilot on board.  Kavak is on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, immediately below Kavak Point, which is about one mile from the entrance from the Black Sea.  There is a quarantine establishment there.  All vessels bound for Constantinople, as those vessels were, were required to obtain pratique at Kavak Bay.

The Sandhill was coming down the Bosphorus at half-speed.  Finding that the Nord Kap was gaining upon her the master of the Sandhill put on full speed and then, when he had got a lead of about two lengths, he slacked speed again and the Nord Kap, going a little faster, somewhat lessened the distance.  On nearing Kavak Point both vessels seemed to have eased and then stopped their engines.  A current sets through the Bosphorus from the Black Sea.  There was no evidence as to the strength of the current at the rime of the collision.  It was assumed to be running at about the rate of two miles an hour - an estimate probably below the mark.

The position of the vessels at Kavak Point seemed to have been this: - The Nord Kap was still on the Asiatic side about two lengths from the shore.  The Sandhill was about a length and a half from thee Nord Kap on her starboard bow and about a length in advance.  Neither vessel had much way on, both intending to bring up in Kavak Bay.  But the Nord Kap was moving, perhaps, a little faster than the Sandhill.  The Sandhill then starboarded, meaning to cross the bows of the Nord Kap and to select her own position in the bay regardless of the situation of the Nord Kap.  The Nord Kap also starboarded, also meaning ton keep the inside position, and moved her engines two nor thee revolutions to get steerage way.  Then, finding that there was no room to go inside and that the Sandhill was actuality crossing her bows, she reversed her engines. But before she could get any stern way she ran into the Sandhill about the fourth hatchway and both vessels were injured.

The acting Judge, who had not the assistance of nautical assessors, found that the Nord Kap alone was to blame.  Their Lordships' opinion was that neither vessel could be absolved from blame.  Each vessel was taking up the most favourable position.  The view of the master of the Sandhill was that as he had reached Kavak Point before the Nord Kap he was master of the situation.  "I did not notice her," he said, "we don't take a following steamer in consideration; we look out ahead.  She looks out for herself."  In crossing the bows of the Nord Kap he executed a most dangerous manoevre - a manoevre rendered doubly dangerous by the proximity of the land, the set of the current, and the fact that neither vessel had on bit much steerage way.  The Sandhill was to blame in the first instance.   But their Lordships were also of opinion that the master of the Nord Kap was not free from blame.  If he had not been son intent on cutting out the Sandhill and had reversed at once when the object of the Sandhills's manoevre was, or ought to have been, apparent to him, the probability was that thee collision would have been avoided.

Their Lordships thought that the order of the Consular Court should be discharged, that both vessels should be pronounced to have been at fault, and that the causes should be remitted to the Consular Court for the purpose of ascertaining damages upon that footing, and that there should be no costs in the Court below or on the appeal to that Board.  Their Lordships would, therefore, humbly advise her Majesty accordingly.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School