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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, September 28, 1947, Image 107

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1947-09-28/ed-1/seq-107/

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should know!
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Continued from page ten
Petersen to Holmgren: your
Holmgren to Petersen: very
CONSCIENCE ... (And so forth.)
A few minutes later Captain
Petersen of the Marie Maersk
cut the towline. The Eastern Glen
kept on in the direction of Boston,
the crippled tanker dropped far
astern. The fair weather held and
several days later a tug showed up
_i a_i »_ •_i_• a._ 'mi_
auu iwiv uiu uuinu ui - mv
battle of the radiograms had
Another Bottle Starts
But the battle in Admiralty
Court was just beginning. Proc
tors for the Eastern Glen went to
work. (“Proctor" is the Admi
ralty term for lawyers.) Salvage
was claimed. The case was decid
ed by Judge John C. Knox in the
U. S. District Court.
Said the judge: “The minds of
the parties involved never met
upon several essentials necessary
to a binding agreement. But the
tanker Marie Maersk was in great
distress when the Eastern Glen
came to the rescue. The service
rendered by the Eastern Glen was
meritorious.” And in the-judge’s
opinion this salvage service was
worth $7,533. His Honor then
penalized the Eastern Glen $533
for not casting off when requested.
Everything considered, Captain
Holmgren had wasted neither his
time nor his breath.
Not Mur Psisoo
Salvage is a romantic and mys
terious word on the water front.
It is a whispered word as far as
treasure on sunken ships is con
cerned. To salvors, most of the
ships sunk during the war carried
uninteresting cargo — food, fuel
and arms, not gold. Many shjps
sank in waters too deep for divers.
This leaves a very small number
of accessible prizes in this treasure
hunt, and salvors don’t like to give
away clues.
Some years ago, two salvage
expeditions clashed over a
sunken ship with gold in its
strong room at the bottom of
the North Sea. The first expedi
tion located the hulk after a long
search and dropped divers. The
divers groped through sea grass,
brushed past slithering fish and
cut into the side of the ship.
While this slow and dangerous
work was going on, another sal
vage crew showed up on a ship
appropriately named Semper
Paratus (always ready). Without
so much as a by-your-leave, the
opportunists aboard the Semper
i THIS WEEK'S cover is one
of the most famous paintings
of Winslow Homer. “Eight
Bells.” done in 1886. Accord
ing to Biographer Lloyd
Goodrich, Homer got the
Paratus proceeded to muscle in on
the painstaking work already done
by the original salvors. A fight en
sued. Calloused fists cracked
against bearded jaws. Eventually
the fight landed in Admiralty
Court where it was decided that
the original salvors had estab
lished possession of the hulk.
When a ship is in distress
and the captain cries, “All
hands to pumps!” a fright
ened passenger would rarely
think of salvage. But aboard
the Great Eastern, one of the first
and most famous of steamships, a
passenger did just that. Steaming
across the North Atlantic in 1864,
the Great Eastern broke her steer
ing apparatus and wallowed help>
lessly in heavy seas.
A Task** to the Bmcm
To the rescue came an American
passenger named Powle. Wasting
no time, he rigged up a new steer
ing device which saved the ship
from the sea. Passengers.and crew
rushed to shake his hand — Powle
was the hero of the hour. But he
was more than that. He was a
shrewd Yankee who, on disem
barking in New York, hurried to a
proctor, sued the owners and col
lected $15,000 salvage!
In old England a royal decree
awarded all salvage to the King.
The King later reduced his claims
considerably, retained his sover
eign right to two strange items:
stranded whales and sturgeons.
This odd provision of Admi
ralty Law has even come into play
in American history.
Many years ago a wandering
whale swam up the Columbia
"This is her — she — her —
me— I mean this is Mildred”
inspiration for it while
painting an entirely dif
ferent picture in the
cabin of a sloop moored
on the Maine shore.
He suddenly told the
0 sloop's owner. “I’m not
.2 going to do any more on
■ this... You can have it
H if you want it.” Then
he rushed away to his
studio and started work on
“Eight Bells.” one of the
classics of the sea. It hangs
today in the Addison Gallery
of American Art. Phillips
Academy, Andover, Mass.
____ j
River in Oregon and trapped itself
in shallow water. A crowd gath
ered. One man produced a rifle,
shot and killed the mammal, or
ganized the dissection and profited
from the proceeds. Much to his
amazement, the State of Oregon
brought suit against him, basing
its plea on the State’s sovereign
rights over whales and sturgeons.
Furthermore, the state won.
Death on the high seas means
work for proctors, but it does not
inevitably result in large payments
to relatives of victims. In 1893,
Congress passed a law called the
Harter Act under which ship
owners could not be sued for errors
of the master and crew if proper
care had been taken to make the
ship seaworthy. The Harter Act
was in force when the Titanic col
lided with an iceberg in 1912 and
sank with a loss of 1,517 lives.
Under the Harter Act, the
Titanic was “seaworthy” and
its owners were not responsible
for the collision with the ice
berg. Proctors for the relatives of
drowned passengers sued in vain.
Nor did the victims' families fare
much better in the case of the
Motto Castle, which became a
charred morgue off the New Jer
set coast in 1934. It was after this
tragedy that the law was amended
in favor of potential victims.
The Law Is Changed
Under the amendment, claims
could be pressed for as much as
$60 per gross ton. For example,
if a passenger lost his life in a dis
aster at sea aboard a 5,000-ton
ship, a proctor for the victim’s
family could sue the shipowner
for 60 times 5,000 or $300,000.
The American skipper who re
cently accused the Dutch of pi
racy was harking back to the days
when pirates of the China Bar
. . . _ti
uary cuu&ta JJUI away,
with murder. If they were appre
hended, a letter of marque came in
handy. Under Admiralty Law, a
letter of marque gives the master
of a ship authority to command a
privateer — in other words, to en
gage in legalized piracy against
enemy vessels in wartime.
For example, King William III
of England gave a letter of marque
to Captain Kidd. The letter was
Continued on page 29
TW- f-28-47

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