A part-owner of a ship is one who owns a definite part or proportion of the whole ship; and of this part his ownership is exclusive. It follows, therefore, that part-owners of a ship do not thereby become partners. And if a ship is owned by a partnership as part of the stock of the firm, the partners do not become thereby part-owners; because each partner owns the whole partnership stocky subject to the rights of the other part-owners, and no partner has an exclusive right in any part or portion of the firm stock. But ships may be and often are held as partnership property, and then all the laws and incidents of partnership attach to them. (y) And the evidence of partnership as to a ship, would seem to be governed by the same rules of law and the same principles which apply to other property.
Part-owners - whether they are so by building a ship together, or purchasing it together (in certain proportions), or subsequently purchasing parts - are always tenants in common; and if either dies, his share goes not to the survivors, but to his own representatives. (z) l If the proportions in which they hold the ship are not defined by some instrument or bargain, the law will regard them as owners of equal shares. (a)
•2. Of the Powers and Duties of Partowners. *267
Any part-owner may sell his share to whom he will, and for what he will. 2
(y) Doddington v. Hallet, 1 Ves. Sen. 497; Wright v. Hunter, 1 East, 20; Mumford v. Nicoll, 20 Johns. 611; Harding v. Foxcroft, 6 Greenl. 76; Phillips v. Purington, 15 Me. 425; Patterson v. Chalmers, 7 B. Mon. 595.
(z) Graves v. Sawcer, T. Raym. 15; Ex parte Young, 2 Ves. & B. 242, 2 Rose 78, n.; Ex parte Harrison, 2 Rose, 76; Owston v. Ogle, 13 East, 538; Helme v. Smith, 7 Bing. 709; Rex v. Collector of the Customs, 2 M. & 8. 223; Green v. Briggs, 6 Hare, 395; Bulkley v. Barber, 6
Exch. 164,1 Eng. L. & Eq. 506; Mumford v. Nicoll, 20 Johns. 611; Thorndike v. DeWolf, 6 Pick. 120; French v. Price, 24 Pick. 13; Jackson v. Robinson, 3 Mason, 138; Hopkins v. Forsyth, 14 Penn. St. 38.
(a) Alexander v. Dowie, 1 H. & N. 152, 37 Eng. L. & Eq. 551; Glover v. Austin, 6 Pick. 221; Ohl v. Eagle Ins. Co. 4 Mason, 172. But the act of 1850, c. 27, § 5, 9 U. S. Stats, at Large, 441, provides that the part or proportion of the vessel belonging to each owner shall be inserted in the register of enrolment.
1 The New Orleans, 106 U. S. 13; Coursin's Appeal, 79 Penn. St. 220; Paynter v. Paynter, 7 Phila. 336.
2 See Whiton v. Spring, 74 N. Y. 169.
It has been doubted whether part-owners could displace a master who was also a part-owner, without good and adequate reason, which should be, generally at least, incapacity or wrong-doing. (b) But it seems now settled that a majority of part-owners, and more certainly a majority in interest and in number, may control and employ a ship at their pleasure, (c) and displace any master or other officer, whether part-owner or not. It is not uncommon to see advertised for sale "a master's interest," or "a sailing interest." It would seem, however, that no such interest was known at law. (cc)
If a majority do not agree, or if a majority injure or disregard the interests of a minority, a court of admiralty will interfere. In general, if a majority of part-owners will not employ a ship at all, without what seems to the court adequate reason for her idleness, the court will give the control and management of her to a minority, requiring adequate security for a just regard to the safety of the ship, her proper employment, and the interests of the majority. (d) So, if the majority wish to employ her in a way to which the minority object, such security will be required, if the court deem it just and reasonable. (e) In all such cases, we consider it as now established in this country, that a court of admiralty has sufficient authority to prevent a ship from lying useless, and to provide for her return in safety, for her proper employment, for a fair adjustment of freight, and for due protection of all the interests of all parties. (f) What power one part-owner has to bind his copartners as to the management of the vessel, the manning, provisioning, furnishing, or repairing her, may not be quite certain.
(b) See the New Draper, 4 Bob. Adm. 290. In the case of a foreign ship, as a general thing, the court will not interfere, on application of the other part-owners to dispossess a captain, who is also an owner. The Johan & Siegmund, Edw. Adm. 242. This power was, however, exercised where a decree of a tribunal of the country to which the vessel belonged, exercising admiralty jurisdiction, was produced, directing the master to deliver up the vessel The Sea Reuter, 1 Dods. 22.
(c) Card v. Hope, 2 B. ft C. 661; Gould v. Stanton, 16 Conn. 12.
(cc) Ward v. Ruckman, 36 N. Y. 26.
(d) There is a dictum to this effect in Steamboat Orleans v. Phoebus, 11 Pet. 175.
See, for a full discussion of this question, 2 Parsons, Mar. Law, 555.
(e) Willings v. Blight, 2 Pet. Adm. 288; The Marengo, Sprague, 506; The Apollo, 1 Hagg. Adm. 306; Gould v. Stanton, 16 Conn. 12.
(f) In The Vincennes, decided by Mr. Justice Ware, in 1851, but not reported, there were three part-owners, one owning a moiety, and the other two a quarter each. The owner of the moiety was in possession, and was ship's husband, but the parties disagreed as to the voyage, and on application of the two part-owners of one moiety, the vessel was ordered to be sold. See also Davis v. Brig Seneca, 18 Am. Jurist, 486, Gilpin, 10; Skrine v. Sloon Hope, Bee, 2.
We doubt, however, whether merely as part-owner he would have a materially different or larger power than the co-tenant of other property. (g) But questions of this kind seldom arise, because the management of the ship is usually given to one of their number, who is recognized as the Ship's Husband.