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decided: November 30, 1896.



Author: Harlan

[ 164 U.S. Page 459]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a proceeding in admiralty for a decree condemning the steamship Kate, an English vessel, her boilers, engines, tackle, apparel and furniture, to be sold in satisfaction of the claim of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, the libellant herein, for the alleged value of seven hundred and sixty-six tons of coal furnished to and delivered on board of that vessel at the city of New York on the 23d day of December, 1892.

The owner, a British subject, intervened and filed an answer denying the liability of the vessel. The District Court having dismissed the libel, 56 Fed. Rep. 614, the cause was transferred by appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, in which court certain questions of law arose which were certified to this court under the sixth section of the act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, 26 Stat. 826. Upon examining the questions so certified, as well as the statement of facts that accompanied them, this court, by appropriate order, required the whole record to be sent up that the cause might be here determined, as fully as if it had been brought here for review by appeal.

The case made by the pleadings and proofs is substantially as stated by the Circuit Court of Appeals, and is as follows:

The United States and Brazil Mail Steamship Company, a New York corporation, having a place of business at the city

[ 164 U.S. Page 460]

     of New York, owned and operated vessels plying between that city and ports in Brazil. Coal for their use was obtained from the libellant, a Pennsylvania company, which was engaged in mining and selling coal and had a place of business in the city of New York. The coal was furnished upon the order of the steamship company, and, in each instance, was charged upon the libellant's account books to that company as well as to the respective vessels.

In June, 1891, the steamship company being indebted to the libellant for coal delivered in the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, the latter for its security filed specifications of lien against the vessels under a statute of New York providing for the collection of demands against ships and vessels. Laws of New York, 1862, p. 956, c. 482. Subsequently, upon an adjustment of accounts between the parties, it was agreed that the libellant should continue to furnish coal to the vessels of the steamship company, and in its discretion and for its security to file in the proper office specifications of lien against each vessel for the coal supplied to it. All the vessels, for which the livellant had, up to that time, furnished coal, upon the order of the steamship company, were owned by that company. But shortly thereafter the steamship company began to employ in its business steamers obtained under time charter parties. Among the vessels so employed was the steamship Kate.

The charter party under which the steamship company obtained the possession and control of the Kate was executed December 15, 1892. It contained, among other conditions, the following:

"That the owners shall provide and pay for all provisions, wages and consular shipping and discharging fees of the captain, officers, engineers, firemen and crew, and shall pay for the insurance of the vessel; also for all engine room and deck stores, and maintain her in a thoroughly efficient state in hull and machinery for and during the service.

"That the charterers shall provide and pay for all the coals, port charges, pilotages, agencies, commissions and all other charges whatsoever, except those above stated. That the charterers

[ 164 U.S. Page 461]

     shall accept and pay for all coal in the steamer's bunkers on delivery, and the owners shall, on the expiration of this charter party, pay for all coal left in the bunkers each, at the current market prices at the respective ports when she is delivered to them."

"That the charterers shall pay for the use of said vessel at the rate of six shillings and six pence per gross register ton per calendar month, commencing from the time the vessel (after entry at the custom-house) is placed with clean holds at charterers' disposal, and at and after the same rates for any part of a month. . . ."

"Owners to provide rope, falls, block and slings necessary for handling ordinary cargoes up to three-ton weight."

"That the captain shall prosecute his voyage with the utmost dispatch, and take every advantage of wind, by using the sails with a view to economize fuel, and shall render all possible assistance with ship's crews and boats.

"That the captain (although appointed by the owners) shall be under the orders and direction of the charterers as regards employment, agency or other arrangements; and the charterers hereby agree to indemnify the owners from all consequences or liabilities that may arise from the captain signing bills of lading, or otherwise complying with their orders and directions. That if the charterers shall have reason to be dissatisfied with the conduct of the captain, officers or engineers, they shall make such complaint in writing to the agent in New York, specially appointed by owners, who shall have full power to act on their behalf, and, if necessary, dismiss any of the officers should they find the complaints made by charterers are justified and proven.

"That the charterers shall have permission to appoint a supercargo and or purser, who shall accompany the steamer, and be furnished free of charge with first-class fare and accommodation, and see that the voyages are prosecuted with the utmost dispatch.

"That the master shall be furnished, from time to time, with all requisite instructions and sailing directions, and shall keep a full and correct ...

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