Hoff Claim US v Mexico 4 RIAA 445

The Rebecca, an American Vessel, sailed from the US in 1884, with cargo consigned to Texas and Tampico. While offshore the Texan port, a strong adverse wind drove the vessel to sea until it found itself off Tampico in a damaged and leaking condition. The vessel accordingly entered the port and logged a protest of distress. Mexican customs officials seized the cargo destined for Texas and arrested the master on charged him of attempt to smuggle. He was tried and acquitted. The Rebecca and its cargo were sold by order of court. The proceeds were to the Treasury and part to the customs employees.

While recognising the general principle of immunity of vessels in distress the courts have given consideration to the degree of necessity prompting vessels to seek refuge. The fact that it may be able to come into port under its own power can obviously not be cited as conclusive evidence that the plea is unjustifiable. If a captain delayed seeking refuge until his ship was wrecked obviously he would not be using his best judgment. The ship did not entered Tampico until after 3 day of been contending entered Brazos Texas. The ship entered the port of Tampico in distress and the seizure of both the vessel and cargo was wrongful