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VESTRIS DISASTER

COMPANY'S LIABILITY

U:S. QOURTS RULING

(Received 18th "September, 10 a,m.) NEW YOBK, 17th September. i Federal Judge, Goddard denied a Thursday limitation of liability to the Liverpool, Brazil, and River Plate Navigation. Company, Limited, and Lamport and. Holt, Limited, owners of the steamer Vestris,. which, sank in November, 1928, with a, large loss of life. " , .•• .;■■■■.■,. " • .' The decision affects sis hundred claimants . who have brought suits aggregating five million dollars. The owners had sought to limit the liability to 90,000 dollars, the value of the cargo sunk. " ; '«.■•. . ■.■■; ' ■-. . The Lamport. and Holt liner Vestris, bound from New York to-.the Biver Plate, sank at sea when.north-east of Norfolk,. Virginia, on 12th November, 1928. Many vessels rushed to the spot oa receipt of her. wireless calls, but the first of them did not Teach the scene until 5.45 on the afternoon of the wreck, but could find no trace of ship or lifeboats. Four other vessels joined her, and the search was carried on all through the night, but it was not until 3.30 a.m. that the American Shipping Board vessel, American Shipper,- wirelessed to say that one lifeboat was alongside her. The position she gave was a considerable distance west of where the Vestris went down 14 hops before. At 4 a.m. on Sunday morning the ship struck a hurricane, and early next day the ship developed a list to starboard. A bulkhead'broke and the boiler room was flooded. ' Early on Monday morning the list grew more pronounced, and the ship heeled over so far that by 10 o'clock the captain ordered the boats.to be launched. A total of 114 persons were lost, and at the official inquiry by Commissioner O'Neill it was found that the heavy casualties were due to the vessel's lost stability, the incompetence of officers and crew, and the fact that the ship carried life-preservers of an antiquated type and one barred by American shipping laws. The captain was blamed for sending out wireless messages only after long delay, there was stated to have been an almost total lack of organisation oh . the ship, unwise methods were pursued in "a most extraordinary fashion," the attempt to use the port lifeboats first was "most unwise and lost many precious hours," there was no reason why the starboard boats should not have been used, and no measures were taken far the safety of the women and children placed in the boats. The captain was blamed in addition for reducing the stability of the ship by pumping out the starboard bilge tanks, and the chief engineer was blamed for not employing the full measure of the pumps promptly and for failing to see that they worked properly. The Vestris had the lowest limit of metacentrie height for safety, and the Commissioner recommended a revision of the methods whereby ships carrying foreign flags were not subject to the U.S.A. legal requirements governing lifeboats and life-preservers, besides making other sweeping recommendations, one of which was that all oceangoing ships should carry wire)ess —there had been a ship not equipped with radio within six miles of the Vestris at the time of heir danger, and neither had known of the presence of the :OttieiJn ;

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19310918.2.50

Bibliographic details

VESTRIS DISASTER, Evening Post, Volume CXII, Issue 69, 18 September 1931

Word Count
531

VESTRIS DISASTER Evening Post, Volume CXII, Issue 69, 18 September 1931

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