The Ottawa

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

70 U.S. 268

The Ottawa

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois in a question of collision at night, on Lake Huron, between the steam propeller Ottawa and the schooner Caledonia, and by which the schooner was sunk; the decree in the Circuit as in the District Court having been against the steamer as in fault.

The controversy was one chiefly of fact; whether, for example, there was any one at all on the steamer's deck about the time of the collision besides the wheelsman then steering the vessel; whether the steamer showed lights as required; what the courses of the two vessels had been, and how far they properly or improperly held them on their approach to each other, and some others not necessary, in view of the decision, to be mentioned. The testimony was conflicting and prolix; the cross-examination of one witness alone having extended to four hundred and thirty-two inquiries. The chief point of law disputed in the controversy and the matter therefore to which the reporter more particularly directs attention was apparently this: Whether, assuming that the master was on the steamer's deck after the vessels came into such proximity as required precautions, until the moment before the collision occurred-a matter about which there were doubts-he was a competent lookout within the decisions of this court; he having been, at the time, the officer of the deck, in charge of navigating her, and having been standing with the wheelsman in the wheel-house; a place which, on this steamer, the mate swore was the best place for a lookout to be, well forward, and giving an unobstructed view; and which the counsel for the owners of the steamer, exhibiting to the court a photograph, stated was less than twenty feet from the bow.

Mr. Dexter for the owners of the steamer; Mr. Proudfoot, contra.

Mr. Justice CLIFFORD delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).