The operator of two tugboats, The T.J. Hooper and the Montrose, (defendant) was contracted to tow two barges and their cargo of coal from Virginia to New York. The barges and their cargo were lost in a severe storm off the coast of New Jersey. Neither tugboat was equipped with a reliable radio that would have provided them storm warnings in both the morning and evening. Four other tugboats sailing in a similar area had radios, received storm warnings, and safely anchored in the Delaware harbor. The owners of the cargo brought an action against the barge owner, the barge owner brought an action against the tugboat operator, and the tugboat operator filed a petition to limit its liability. The trial court joined all the actions and found, among other things, that the tugboat operator was liable for negligence for failing to equip the two tugboats with radios. The tugboat operator appealed.