News from 1882 Republic I Rescues a Disabled Steamer


Mark Baber

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[MAB Notes: 1. "Wednesday" was 21 June 1882. 2. According to a reported court decision, The Daniel Steinman, 19 F. 918 (E.D.N.Y. 1884), the two captains agreed to a £10,000 ($50,000) salvage fee, but the Steinman's owner, the White Cross Line, would not honor that agreement. White Cross offered only £1,500 ($7,500), while White Star demanded only £5,000 ($25,000), which is the amount the court awarded.]

The New-York Times, 25 June 1882

A DISABLED STEAMER

The steam-ship Republic, of the White Star Line, from Liverpool, was
sighted off Fire Island with the Belgian steamer Daniel Steinman in tow
yesterday morning. Shortly before sunset the Steinman anchored off
Quarantine and the Republic came up to her dock. Capt. Cattoor, of the
Steinman, reported that he sailed from Antwerp on the 7th with a general
cargo and about 250 steerage passengers. All went well until 8 o'clock
last Wednesday morning, when the propeller broke. The weather was fine
and the sea smooth. No alarm was manifested by the passengers. The
Steinman was immediately put under sail, but little progress was made.
She was then in latitude 41° 16' and longitude 59° 10', off Cape Sable.
Shortly before sunset Wednesday evening the Republic hove in sight and
took her in tow. The Republic averaged 10 miles an hour with the
Steinman, and in the 24 hours ending at noon yesterday she accomplished
258 miles. Capt. Cattoor said that this was faster time than the
Steinman was In the habit of making, even when her machinery was in
perfect order. She will be towed to the foot of Twenty-fourth-street,
North River, to-day. After her cargo has been discharged she will go on
the dry dock to be measured for a now propeller. The salvage due the
Republic will be considerable, but the amount has not yet been fixed.

-30-
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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This begs several questions:

Was the master in the stronger position imposing his will upon the weaker (that’s hardly unknown in contracts generally)? Did they simply overestimate the amount at issue? Or were they jointly postulating a 'portmanteau' figure within which they knew the eventual award would lie?

And how come the Belgian and British flags find themselves in a United States court? Lloyds Salvage Association had been extant since 1856 and was represented inter alia in New York and Cleveland (Ohio) for the Great Lakes. One would have thought arbitration in London would have been preferred.

On the matter of the amount, probably the greater experience of the White Star superintendency prevailed. I can otherwise understand White Star’s commendable temporising; marine salvage is a perpetual mutuality - today’s tug can end up as tomorrow’s tow.

Resort to court proceedings was probably necessary because ‘no cure — no pay’ was not promulgated by Lloyds until the early 1890’s. Indeed, Lloyds Standard Form of Salvage Agreement or Lloyds Open Form (LOF) was only generally made available as a printed form as late as 1908. Use of the form as a putative contract allows for awards to be calculated in retrospect and with fairness to salvors, owners and underwriters alike. It therefore does away with the need for hasty negotiation and allows the salvage work to proceed without delay. Finally, it obviates any necessity to detain a vessel in her port of refuge under a maritime lien for salvage.

In the present case it looks as if the court was pointedly giving scant regard to the monetary pretensions of the Belgian’s owners! Whatever, the case did not make the textbooks.

Noel
 

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