In a Collision Case the Crew of the Sinking Vessel Must be Helped.
Here’s Some Information.
The recent Northern Queen-Fayette Brown collision case and the charge (afterward denied) made against Capt. Smith, of the Queen, of keeping on his way without attempting to succor the crew of the sinking Brown, raises a controversy as to whether or no there is a law bearing on the latter subject. There is such a law, but comparatively few persons are aware of its existence. It was passed and approved last fall and went into effect on December 15. It provides that in every case of collision between two vessels it shall be the duty of the master or person in charge of each vessel, if and so far as he can do so without serious danger to his own crew and passengers If any), to stay by the other vessel until has ascertained that she has no need of further assistance, and to render to the other vessel, her master, crew and passengers (if any) such assistance as may be necessary to save them from any danger caused by the collision, and so also to give to the master or person in charge of the other vessel the name of his own vessel and her port of registry, or other port or place to which she belongs, and also the names of the ports to and from which she is bound. If he fails so to do, and no reasonable cause for such failure can be shown, the collision shall, in absence of proof to the contrary, be deemed to have been caused by his wrongful act, neglect or default.
Section 2 provides that every master or person in charge of a United States vessel who fails, without reasonable cause, to render such assistance or give such information as aforesaid, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable for a penalty of $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; and for the above sum the vessel shall be liable and may be seized and proceeded against by process in any District Court in the United States by any person; one half of such sum to be payable to the informer and one half to the United States.