The opinion of the court was delivered by: MEANEY
Petitioner, John Bogan, as owner of the motorboat Paramount III, instituted this proceeding pursuant to 46 U.S.C.A. §§ 183-185. The relief sought was exoneration from liability, or in the event that liability was found, for limitation of said liability. Trial was held without a jury, and decision reserved pending submission of briefs by the parties.
1. The Paramount III, owned by petitioner, John Bogan, was built complete, including decking over, in 1939.
2. She had an overall length, end to end, of 46 feet, and a gross tonnage of 14.98.
3. She was not subject to Coast Guard inspection, nor was she subject to the requirements of the Motor Boat Act of 1940, 46 U.S.C.A. §§ 526i, 526j.
4. Paramount III made daily trips as a party fishing boat from her berth on the Manasqual River. She went about eight or ten miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, always returning to her berth by nightfall.
5. Paramount III was powered by two gasoline-burning Chrysler engines, both equipped with back flame arresters and drip-proof carburetors.
6. Each engine had its own fuel tank, and these together with the engines and the generators were all located in the same compartment with no separating bulkhead.
7. The ventilation system for the Paramount iii was as follows: two forward vents with three and one-half inch cowls, whose pipes led down to the bilges; two port holes on each side of the engine room, a total of four in all; from the rear of the engine room there was an opening thirty inches square that led to a storage space, at the rear of which there were two vents in the transom.
8. The fuel tanks were filled by means of filling pipes, about one and one-quarter inches in size, which ran down from the deck to the tanks. At the deck these pipes were surrounded by brass plates flush with the deck. The filling openings were covered by brass screw type caps which, when close, were flush with the deck.
9. The fuel tanks had vents, three-eighths inches inside pipe size, which conformed to the Coast Guard recommendations for the year 1947 for tank vents for vessels with a tank capacity of one to one hundred gallons.
11. No stove or flame-producing device was carried on the boat.
12. The Paramount III had a master, Captain Charles Fuchs, now deceased, and a crew of one, Frank Brown, the deckhand.
13. Captain Fuchs was a licensed motorboat operator. He was a competent master and had a good reputation in his profession.
14. Prior to and at the time of the explosion, said vessel was licensed for the coasting trade and mackerel fishery by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation of the Department of Commerce, for the year 1947, by various extensions of the license granted i
Her original license, issued the year she was built, in 1939, was for coasting trade, passenger service, only.
15. The Paramount III was used for the carrying of passengers desirous of engaging in offshore, deep-sea fishing.
16. On September 13, 1947, the day prior to the explosion, a leak was discovered in the gas line leading to or from the carburetor of the port engine. This was discovered on the way out to the fishing ground. It was repaired by Captain Fuchs on the same day, ...