The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Eighth Circuit, in an unpublished decision, has ruled that the owner of a barge may be wholly liable for damages resulting from its tendering to a tug company a barge that is unseaworthy.
In a case reported on the Holland & Knight website, the US Army Corps of Engineers time-chartered a tug to tow its barge up the Mississippi River. The corps personnel didn't lower the boom on the barge, having miscalculated the clearance necessary to get under a bridge on the intended route. The tug master briefly inspected the barge, but did not notice that the boom was in the fully raised position. The boom hit the bridge. The bridge owner sued the tug company, which impleaded the corps.
The appellate court held that the barge was not seaworthy for its intended route and that the trial court's determination that the corps was 100 per cent at fault was not clearly erroneous. (Arkansas State Highway Commission v Arkansas River Co, No 00-2767 - 8th Circuit, October 16, 2001).
Source: Maritime Advocate