The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ohio (Shipwreck), collision, 19 May 1890

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The propeller SIBERIA, which collided with the OHIO, will leave Cleveland today. The OHIO will probably be abandoned to the underwriters.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 21, 1890
      The OHIO has been abandoned to the underwriters. Insured for $51,175.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 22, 1890
      Insurance agents are examining the sunken OHIO with a view of letting out contracts for raising her.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 26, 1890
      The OHIO-SIBERIA collision case was put on in United States court at Detroit this week. The OHIO, which was sunk in Mud lake, May 19 1890, sues the SIBERIA and SAMUEL MATHER for $79,611. The complainant claims that near Sailors' Encampment the SIBERIA sheered toward the OHIO and notwithstanding the latter tried to get out of the way she was struck and sunk in a few minutes. Another claim is that no lookout was on either boat. The suction caused by the MATHER passing the SIBERIA will also enter into the case. Altogether it will be as interesting a case as has been heard this term.
      Marine Review
      March 5, 1891
      Famous OHIO Case.
Judge Severns of the United States district court has just handed down a decision that adds another chapter to the famous OHIO case, which grew out of the sinking of the steamer OHIO in the Sault river in 1890, through fouling with the steamers SIBERIA and MATHER, the latter of which (the wooden MATHER) has since been lost. The OHIO was adjudged to be damaged on the survey as reported by a commissioner to the extent of $46,317.17. Among admiralty lawyers in the case were John C. Shaw of Detroit and C.E. Cremer of Chicago, for the Ohio, H.D. Goulder, Cleveland, and F.H. Canfield, Detroit, representing the SIBERIA, and J.H. Hoyt Cleveland, and H.C. Wisner and Alfred Russell, Detroit, representing the MATHER The case was first tried before Judge Hammond, who found all vessels in fault, and decreed two-thirds of the OHIO's damage against the other boats. An important point of law here arose. and the SIBERIA and MATHER excepted to the commissioner's report as exorbitant, and raised the question whether the owners of the OHIO had the right to recover demurrage which was included in the commissioner's report. This was made on the ground that the OHIO's owners by abandonment had parted with their title and right to the use of the vessel, and they therefore. could not recover demurrage, which is profit that they claim they would have made from her use. Judge Severns, however, overruled all exceptions and confirmed the commissioner's report, excepting that he adds to such report and enlarges the damages recoverable by the OHIO, by allowing interest on all claims since 1890. The total amount thus decreed aggregate in round numbers, $64,000. The end of this case has of course not been heard as yet. It will be passed upon by a higher court.
      Marine Review
      December 3, 1896
      Another Round.
      The litigation growing out of the collision of May 19, 1890, in which the steamer OHIO was sunk in Mud lake (St. Mary's river), is not closed yet. A new chapter opens with an action in the court of common pleas at Cleveland, brought by the owners of the steamer SIBERIA against the owners of the steamer MATHER (both which vessels were proceeded against by the owners of the OHIO), in which the claim is made that by reason of the MATHER's fault, the owners of the SIBERIA have been compelled to and have paid a large sum to the owners of the OHIO.
      The circumstances of the collision and the course of the proceedings in admiralty are known to most lake people. It will be remembered that in the United States district court each of the steamers was held to be at fault, the MATHER in that she, as the overtaking vessel negligently approached so close to the SIBERIA that her suction started the SIBERIA on the sheer which "brought her into collision with the OHIO; the SIBERIA was held at fault in that she did not reverse as soon as she began sheering, and that it was negligence to experiment with the helm, in an endeavor to clear the OHIO, before stopping and backing; and the OHIO was condemned for not stopping and backing as soon as the SIBERIA's sheer was discovered. All the parties appealed.
      The United States circuit court of appeals for the sixth circuit reversed the district court as to the OHIO, holding that the situation was one of surprise to which she had not contributed, that within from forty to sixty seconds after the sheer began the collision occurred, which gave little time to think and less to act, and that even if she committed a mistake, it was an error and not a fault. The MATHER was found at fault on the same ground as found by the district court, namely, "in undertaking to pass the SIBERIA in dangerously close proximity, and this fault we have no doubt started the swing of the SIBERIA through suction." The SIBERIA was condemned on the ground that as between the OHIO and SIBERIA, the SIBERIA's defense "is that of inevitable accident," her owners having admitted that she felt her course and ran into the OHIO, but averring, as was also stated in the libel of the OHIO, that she was compelled to do this by reason of the fault of the MATHER in approaching so close that her suction threw the SIBERIA on the sheer which resulted in collision, that as to the OHIO the SIBERIA must show that her own management was such, both before and after the sheer, as not to have contributed, and that while as between the MATHER and the SIBERIA any doubts as to the SIBERIA's management must be resolved in the SIBERIA's favor, but the question, the court said, we have here to decide, is as to the liability of the SIBERIA to the OHIO. * * That liability must be determined upon very different principles," and she was condemned because "she has not satisfactorily shown that this sheer was wholly without fault upon her part, nor has she shown that the resultant collision was due to an agency wholly beyond her control."
      The present action seems to be one in which it is sought to have the question of fault determined as between the MATHER and the SIBERIA. The course of the case just begun will be watched with considerable interest.
      Marine Review
      August 24, 1899

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Reason: collision
Remarks: Repaired
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.059722 Longitude: -83.945833
William R. McNeil
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Ohio (Shipwreck), collision, 19 May 1890