VAN GRAAFEILAND, Circuit Judge:
On February 19, 1969, the M. S. Farida sailed from New York for ports in South America with a cargo which included four heavy tractors. On February 21, the vessel's crew was forced to abandon ship because one of the tractors, weighing about 14.4 tons, had broken loose and punctured a large hole in the ship's hull below the water line. The crew did not learn what had brought the vessel to the verge of sinking until after it had been towed to Norfolk, Virginia and placed in dry dock.
The liability issues were tried before Judge Bonsal and his factual findings should not be set aside unless clearly erroneous. S. S. Amazonia v. New Jersey Export Marine Carpenters, Inc., 564 F.2d 5, 8 (2d Cir. 1977); Union Carbide & Carbon Corp. v. United States, 200 F.2d 908, 910 (2d Cir. 1953).
A detailed review of the evidence is unnecessary. Court Carpentry was held at fault because it lashed the fourteen ton tractor to the floor while it was sitting on its flexible rubber tires. The proper practice, according to the ship's experts, would have been to support the tractor on rigid wooden blocks placed under its axles. The district court found, as an additional causative factor, that the wooden bracing around the tractor was inadequate and insecurely fastened in place.
Expert testimony also established that periodic inspections of the stowed tractors were required so that wire lashings, stretched or loosened by the pitching of the ship, could be tightened as needed. International was held at fault because it stowed cargo in front of an entranceway into the Number 2 hold, thus preventing entry into the hold by the ship's crew while the ship was at sea. The district court found that, had the ship's chief officer been able to enter the Number 2 hold when he attempted to do so on February 20, prompt remedial action could have been taken to avert the catastrophe or reduce the loss, "even if it meant heading for port."
The district court concluded that the foregoing defects in stowage made the Farida unseaworthy and that the ship failed to carry its burden of proving that its own fault or neglect did not contribute to the loss. See 46 U.S.C. § 1304(2)(q); Nichimen Co. v. M. V. Farland, 462 F.2d 319, 329-30 (2d Cir. 1972). For this reason, the ship was held liable to cargo. However, this did not prevent the ship from recovering over against the stevedore and lasher for breach of their implied warranties of workmanlike performance. "The shipowner's own conduct will preclude it from obtaining indemnity from the stevedore only where it prevented or seriously handicapped the stevedore in his effort to perform his duties." Henry v. A/S Ocean, 512 F.2d 401, 407 (2d Cir. 1975). The district court found that no conduct of this nature took place, and this finding is supported by the evidence.
The district judge held appellants jointly and severally liable because he felt that an apportionment of damages as between them "would be speculative at best." We construe this holding as an equal division of damages, United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., Inc., 421 U.S. 397, 407, 411, 95 S.Ct. 1708, 44 L.Ed.2d 251 (1975)
Following his decision on liability, Judge Bonsal appointed a Special Master to hear and report concerning the elements and amount of damages. The findings of the Special Master which were adopted by the district court may not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
Upon the Farida's arrival at Norfolk, her master declared general average, a procedure by which ship and cargo share ratably the overall loss resulting from efforts to extricate the ship and its cargo from a danger common to both.
It is then the duty of the ship's master to make the general average adjustments. Johnson & Higgins v. United States, 287 U.S. 459, 462, 53 S.Ct. 209, 77 L.Ed. 426 (1932); Ralli v. Troop, 157 U.S. 386, 400, 15 S.Ct. 657, 39 L.Ed. 742 (1895); The Emilia S. De Perez, 22 F.2d 585, 586 (D.Md.1927). Although the master himself may make the necessary computations, United States v. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co., 298 U.S. 483, 491-92, 56 S.Ct. 889, 80 L.Ed. 1296 (1936), they are usually so complex that he hires a professional general average adjuster. Cia. Atlantica Pacifica, S. A. v. Humble Oil & Refining Co., supra, 274 F.Supp. at 892. The master of the Farida hired a firm of professional adjusters, and the cost of the adjustment, which was in excess of $101,600.63, has been charged against appellants.
Appellants contend, however, that when the owners of the Farida discovered the cause of her mishap, they should have realized that they would be unable to recover in general average because they had failed to exercise reasonable diligence to provide a seaworthy ship. See Orient Mid-East Lines, Inc. v. A Shipment of Rice, 496 F.2d 1032, 1037-41 (5th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 1005, 95 S.Ct. 1447, 43 L.Ed.2d 763 (1975). For this reason, say appellants, the ship should have terminated the general average proceeding without processing it completely through adjustment, citing McGraw-Edison Co. v. Trinidad Corp., 1971 A.M.C. 227 (Sup.Ct. New York County 1969), aff'd, 34 A.D.2d 528, 309 N.Y.S.2d 26 (1st Dept.1970). Thus, appellants claim that $52,219.53 of the general average adjustment expense should not be charged against them, inasmuch as it was not incurred in good faith and was not paid for activities that mitigated their damages in any way.
In making this contention, appellants rely upon the district court's finding that the ship had "made no showing that it exercised due diligence to make the Farida seaworthy." This lack of proof may have resulted from trial strategy aimed at simplifying the issues in the ship's meritorious claim over against appellants. In any event, it did not establish that the ship should have been aware, six years prior to trial, that it was at fault for the accident. When a master makes general average expenditures, he is acting in the interests of cargo as well as the ship. The Toluma, 72 F.2d 690, 692 (2d Cir. 1934), aff'd sub nom. Aktieselskabet Cuzko v. The Sucarseco, 294 U.S. 394, 55 S.Ct. 467, 79 L.Ed. 942 (1935). These expenses are shared by cargo interests in the general average adjustment, Gulf Refining Co. v. Universal Insurance Co., 32 F.2d 555 (2d Cir. 1929); and they may be recovered from a negligent third party in a direct action by cargo, Aktieselskabet Cuzko v. The Sucarseco, supra, 294 U.S. at 403-04, 55 S.Ct. 467 (1935), or by the ship suing for the benefit of cargo, Pool Shipping Co. v. United States, 33 F.2d 275, 277 (2d Cir. 1929). Because the fault of the ship was not at all "free from doubt," Johnson & Higgins v. United States, supra, 287 U.S. at 461-62, 53 S.Ct. 209, its master was justified in proceeding with the adjustment. Although in some cases the unreasonableness of the shipowner's decision to proceed with a general average adjustment may preclude him from recovering such part of his expenses from a wrongdoing third party, we cannot on this record conclude that the district court was clearly erroneous in finding that all the shipowner's expenses were reasonable and should be recovered. The award in this case follows well-established judicial precedent and is therefore approved.
Remanded solely for recomputation of interest and, in all other respects, affirmed, without costs to any party.
Critics of the doctrine of general average will find strong support for their cause in cases such as this. In an age when insurance can be written to cover every conceivable type of loss, it would seem that a more equitable procedure than that followed herein could be devised to protect the interests of ship and cargo. See Hudson, General Average—Defences And "Due Diligence" Disputes, 3 Lloyd's Mar. & Com.L.Q. 416 (1976).