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In United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., 421 U.S. 397, 95 S.Ct. 1708, 44 L.Ed.2d 251 (1975), the United States Supreme Court abandoned its divided damages rule in admiralty in favor of apportioned damages based on the respective fault of the involved vessels. It may be seriously questioned whether an admiralty rule involving damage to vessels has much relevance to the common law doctrine of contributory negligence. As noted in 2 Am. Jur. 2d Admiralty § 1 (1962), the development of admiralty in England was independent of the common law courts and against their opposition. See also Benedict on Admiralty (7th ed. 1974), § 41, et seq. at 3-1, et seq. Apart from the federal statutory rights noted below, the traditional maritime remedy for injured seamen was a suit for maintenance and cure -- basically medical and per diem support -- which arises out of neither contract nor tort, but rather as an incident of their status.

The only other remedy was under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, a doctrine akin to a breach of warranty action founded on the duty to have a seaworthy vessel, in which negligence was not a factor. Note, The Tangled Seine: A ...

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