In a Collision Action Board in the Admiralty courts yesterday between owners of Liverpool and Manchester ships Mr Justice LANGTON after hearing evidence made the comment that this may be one of those accidents which in war time conditions just could not be helped and what both ships did was without negligence. The Judge said he threw this out as a possible result for counsel to bear in mind in making their final submissions.

The action on which Manchester Liners Ltd owners of the steamship MANCHESTER REGIMENT with personal representatives of deceased members of the crew, sued the Pacific Steam Navigation Co Ltd of Liverpool owners of the OROPESA for a collision in the North Atlantic on Dec 4th last, in consequence of which the MANCHESTER REGIMENT sank with the loss of nine lives. The Liverpool owners denied negligence and counterclaimed.

Bound for Liverpool

The OROPESA bound from Halifax to Liverpool, had left her convoy to pick up survivors of the steamship CHANCELLOR and her own crew of 197, and she took aboard 55 survivors of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT. The vessels were on opposite courses, navigating without lights, in strong wind and poor visibility. Both switched on lights after seeing a loom ahead.

The master of the OROPESA, Capt Robert Ewart DUNN said the CHANCELLOR had been sunk in fog, and he himself was No 13 of this convoy.

“The collision of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT, “ he declared, “ was due to the war time conditions and the absence of lights.”

Mr Justice LANGTON observed more than one officer said the same and counsel must face the possibility they may be right. The same thing had passed through his mind,

Either counsel urged that the other ship was to blame. Mr LANGTON having thrown out the suggestion of them to consider “neither to blame” might be a conclusion. He should in view of their statements pursue the matter no more.

Mr HAYWARD for the OROPESA said the MANCHESTER REGIMENT suffered £260.000 worth of damage, the OROPESA £30.000 and he must contend the MANCHESTER REGIMENT wrongly ported to a vessel ahead and went forward at full speed with no whistle signal.

Judgement will be given today.

Oct 4th 1940

Admiralty court judgement

In brief:-

Collision 4th, Dec last when the OROPESA coming to Liverpool in convoy collided almost head-on with the MANCHESTER REGIMENT with the loss of 9 of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT crew.

The OROPESA had just returned from her convoy after rescuing 42 crew members of the steamship CHANCELLOR which had been sunk in a collision in the fog, she also was carrying 44 of her own passengers and her crew of 197, and took on 55 of the crew of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT .

The Judge said, he thought the vessels saw each other in an appreciable time before they turned on their lights.

The OROPESA was nosing into a S.E gale and the MANCHESTER REGIMENT was in a good position to see things ahead, it was a clear night with fair visibility and at sighting, the MANCHESTER REGIMENT had the OROPESA a little on the starboard bow.

He had come to the conclusion with the assistance of the Elder Brethren that the MANCHESTER REGIMENT was four fifths to blame, the OROPESA one fifth. When the lights of the OROPESA were switched on the MANCHESTER REGIMENT added to a prior porting by a hard-a-porting and pulling her engines full ahead. For that action there was no excuse. If she saw the red of the OROPESA on her starboard bow her duty was to go under the stern of the OROPESA. If they were meeting end on she had ported and again done the wrong thing. The Elder Brethren agreed with him this was the main cause of the collision. The actions were the worst she could have taken, additionally she did not sound her whistle, the offending of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT was very heavy indeed. Moreover she ported 10 degrees to an undefined object. Both vessels took action before they saw each others lights and must have seen each other at perhaps a mile.

They had the light of the waning moon, the MANCHESTER REGIMENT had time to avoid the collision if she had not permitted the major fault of hard-a-porting and going ahead without the whistle.

The OROPESA equally had time to act, the court sympathised deeply with the mariners who had to act under these strains.

MANCHESTER REGIMENT four fifths to blame OROPESA one fifth

Cost to be borne by the parties equally


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