The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John Gregory (Tug), collision, 3 Sep 1888

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Cleveland, Sept. 3 - While the tugs FOREST CITY and JOHN GREGORY were competing for a tow the GREGORY ran into and sunk the FOREST CITY, which lies in 9 fathoms of water. The crew of the FOREST CITY was saved.
      Duluth Daily Democrat
      September 3, 1888

      . . . . .

      Admiralty Decisions.
      Bradley Transportation Co., Vs. Tug JOHN GREGORY.
Judge Ricks, of the United States District Court, Cleveland, a few days ago handed down decisions in two admiralty cases that were tried some time ago. On Sept. 2, 1888, the harbor tug FOREST CITY, owned by the Bradley Transportation Co., was sunk in collision with the tug JOHN GREGORY. The GREGORY was informed that the schooner CONSTITUTION was bound for Cleveland, and started out to secure the tow. She was overtaken by the FOREST CITY, which started out from a point near Rocky River. When the tugs came near each other, some distance from the schooner, "bulling" ensued and the FOREST CITY was sunk. Reviewing the testimony, the court says:
"After full consideration, the preponderance of the evidence, it seems to me, shows that the GREGORY, having a definite and fixed purpose in view, proceeded on her course for the vessel which she was expecting to tow into the harbor, without any substantial change in the same. The FOREST CITY, of course, did not know of the dispatch to the owner of the GREGORY, informing him of the tow, and was undoubtedly sailing for the purpose of getting the tow if possible. She crossed the bow of the GREGORY so close that one witness says he could have jumped from one tug to the other. After crossing the bow, she slackened her speed and came alongside of the GREGORY on her starboard side. From this point on, it is evident that the two tugs were 'bulling' each other, and attempting to throw each other off the course. At this point the master of the GREGORY testifies that, knowing that he had the dispatch and was sure of the tow, he said to himself, I can afford to let t he other tug go ahead,' and checked his boat. This statement, being consistent with the undisputed facts, seems to be natural and reasonable and is easily believed. If I were sure that up to the time the two tugs commenced their 'bulling', the GREGORY was in any wise in fault, I would divide the damages for this collision, because it is very evident to me that either one of the masters could have prevented this collision if he had determined to do so. But it seems to me that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the FOREST CITY was the aggressor, and that the master of the tug felt that his only hope in getting the tow was to throw the GREGORY off her course. This he attempted to do and in doing this was the aggressor all through the maneuver. The GREGORY has been injured, but I will not allow her any damages, because even conceding that up to the time the 'bulling' began the FOREST CITY was in fault, there was opportunity enough after the 'bullying' began for the GREGORY to have gotten out of the way and escaped any injury, so that it was her own negligence which contributed to her injury, and I will not allow her any damages. Two disinterested witnesses who were on the GREGORY both swear to the signals given by the master of the latter tug and both aver that no answer came from the FOREST CITY. This was the signal for each vessel to keep her own course. I am largely influenced to this conclusion by the consideration that there was every motive for the FOREST CITY to interfere with the GREGORY's movements, because the master of the FOREST CITY supposed that the first tug to reach the CONSTITUTION would get the tow. Therefore the claim of the captain of the GREGORY that he stopped first, feeling secure of his tow, is both natural and reasonable, and is supported by the preponderance of evidence. For these reasons, I think the FOREST CITY was in fault, and she is not entitled to recover any damages in this case." Owners of the FOREST CITY will appeal this case.
      Marine Review
      Augusat 1, 1895

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired ?
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
William R. McNeil
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John Gregory (Tug), collision, 3 Sep 1888