United States District Court, D. Alaska
TUG BLARNEY, LLC, a Washington limited liability company; DOUGLAS HILTY, an individual; ED LYDA, an individual; ROGER KENOYER, an individual; and NICK HUMLICK, an individual, Plaintiffs,
RIDGE CONTRACTING, INC., an Alaska corporation; and RIDGE EQUIPMENT, LLC, an Alaska limited liability company, in personam, Defendants. RIDGE CONTRACTING, INC., an Alaska corporation, Third-Party Plaintiff,
C& K MARINE LLC, an Alaska limited liability company, Third-Party Defendant/Counter-Claimant and Cross Claimant
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Tug Blarney, LLC, a Washington Limited Liability Company, Douglas Hilty, an individual, Ed Lyda, an individual, Roger Kenoyer, an individual, Nick Humlick, an individual, Plaintiffs: John G. Young, Markos Scheer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Young deNormandie et al., Seattle, WA.
For Ridge Contracting, Inc., an Alaska corporation, Ridge Equipment, LLC, Defendants: Jeremy B. Jones, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Nicoll Black & Feig, Seattle, WA; Larry E. Altenbrun, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Nicoll Black Misenti & Feig, Seattle, WA.
For Ridge Contracting, Inc., an Alaska corporation, ThirdParty Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Jeremy B. Jones, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Nicoll Black & Feig, Seattle, WA; Larry E. Altenbrun, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Nicoll Black Misenti & Feig, Seattle, WA.
For C& K Marine LLC, ThirdParty Defendant, Counter Claimant, Cross Claimant: Markos Scheer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Young deNormandie et al., Seattle, WA.
For Ridge Equipment, LLC, Cross Defendant: Larry E. Altenbrun, Nicoll Black Misenti & Feig, Seattle, WA.
Sharon L. Gleason, United States District Judge.
ORDER RE MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This case arises out of circumstances related to the sinking of the tug ARIES in June 2011. The ARIES was owned by Third-Party Defendant C& K Marine LLC (" C& K" ) and pulling a barge carrying equipment owned by Ridge Contracting, Inc. and Ridge Equipment, LLC. (Ridge Contracting and Ridge Equipment are together referred to as the " Ridge Defendants." ) After the ARIES sank, the tug BLARNEY and her crew went to its assistance and towed the barge and the Ridge Defendants' cargo to Nome. Plaintiff Tug Blarney, LLC (" Tug Blarney" ) owns the BLARNEY, but had chartered it to C& K. Brian Campbell and Kevin Kennedy own both Tug Blarney and C& K.
On May 4, 2012, Tug Blarney initiated this action for salvage against Ridge Contracting. On November 30, 2012, the BLARNEY's four crewmembers, Douglas Hilty, Ed Lyda, Roger Kenoyer, and Nick Humlick (the " Crew" ), were added as Plaintiffs. On July 29, 2013, Plaintiffs added Ridge Equipment as a Defendant.
Ridge Contracting filed a third-party complaint against C& K seeking indemnification
and alleging breach of contract. C& K counterclaimed against Ridge Contracting and Ridge Equipment, requesting that " C& K be allowed to participate with the other Plaintiffs in the salvage award for the successful salvage of" the Ridge Defendants' property.
Tug Blarney and C& K have initiated a separate action against various insurance companies in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Before this Court are three motions for summary judgment:
o At Docket 76, Third-Party Defendant C& K moves for summary judgment against Ridge Contracting, seeking the dismissal of Ridge Contracting's claims for indemnification and the dismissal of the remaining breach of contract claims.
o At Docket 83, the Ridge Defendants move for partial summary judgment on Ridge Contracting's breach of contract claims against C& K, and on C& K's and Tug Blarney's salvage claims against the Ridge Defendants, as well as the Crew's salvage claim against Ridge Equipment.
o At Docket 96, C& K, Tug Blarney, and the Crew (together, the " Salvage Claimants" ) move for partial summary judgment on the issue of " pure" salvage.
These motions raise overlapping issues, which can be grouped into three categories: (1) indemnification; (2) salvage; and (3) breach of contract (other than the indemnification clause). Oral argument was not requested on any of the motions and was not necessary to this Court's determination of these motions.
I. The Charter and Freight Agreement between Ridge Contracting and C& K.
Ridge Contracting was engaged to work on construction projects for the summer of 2011 in Alakanuk, Alaska. In May 2011, C& K and Ridge Contracting entered into a Charter and Freight Agreement (the " Charter Agreement" ). Ridge Equipment
was not a party to the agreement. Under the Charter Agreement, C& K agreed to transport cargo to various locations, including Alakanuk, Alaska, for Ridge Contracting in four phases.
Prior to entering into the Charter Agreement, C& K had executed with Tug Blarney a five-year " bareboat or demise" charter for the tug BLARNEY. But C& K's performance of the Charter Agreement would require a tug that was capable of transiting rivers, which the BLARNEY could not do. Consequently, C& K purchased the tug ARIES, which could transit rivers. Ridge Contracting learned that C& K would purchase the ARIES for this purpose " right about the time [it] was signing [the] contract." 
II. The Voyage and Sinking of the ARIES; the BLARNEY Recovers the Barge.
In May 2011, C& K bareboat chartered the barge KRS 240-5 (the " Barge" ) from Heko Services, Inc. In June 2011, the ARIES, with a four person crew, set off from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, towards Nome, Alaska, with the Barge in tow. Most of the cargo on the Barge was owned by Ridge Contracting; twelve pieces of cargo were owned by Ridge Equipment, but appear to have been leased to Ridge Contracting.
On June 26, 2011, at a location about 100 miles from the Pribilof Islands, the ARIES began listing. The ARIES crew eventually abandoned ship and boarded the Barge. The ARIES then sank, but it was still attached to the Barge. The ARIES acted as an anchor for the Barge. The ARIES crew did not know at that time, but before sinking, the ARIES had pierced and ...