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The proprietors of wharves have the legal obligation to provide a safe berth and must use reasonable care to keep the dock in a reasonably safe condition for use by vessels invited to enter it. The owner of the dock must exercise reasonable diligence to discover the existence of defects, obstructions, and other hazards that would make the wharf unsafe to vessels. The owner is liable for harm incurred by a vessel that results from the owner's failure to meet this duty. Wharf proprietors have been found liable for injuries to vessels resulting from an uneven ocean bottom or from submerged obstructions, such as rock, cinders, or a sunken ship.

A vessel must be furnished with ordinary mooring devices. The wharf owner owes a duty of reasonable care in maintaining the fastenings for a vessel, including the duty of inspecting the line securing the vessel. NEGLIGENCE by the wharf owner in failing to properly moor the vessel will result in liability for injuries to the vessel and its crew. However, if an employee of the ship supervises the mooring, the responsibility shifts to the owners of the ship.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Alyce Faye Wattleton to Zoning - Further ReadingsWharves - Government Regulation, Wharfage Rates, Liability - Injuries to Wharves