We have recently had the opportunity to peruse the Judgment of the U.S. District Court with respect to the purchase by AmShip and the Kinsman Marine Transit Company of the vessels of the Wilson fleet and perhaps we should devote some lines to the terms of the decision so that our readers will know what to expect in the months and years to come.
Firstly, AmShip/Kinsman is allowed to purchase all the Wilson vessels on the condition that three of the ships in the group comprising THOMAS WILSON, J. BURTON AYERS, J. H. HILLMAN JR., FRANK R. DENTON, A. T. LAWSON, and BEN MOREELL be sold to a company not now engaging in lake transportation or to a Non-Captive American fleet. Kinsman has until December 15th to sell the three on its own, If they are not sold, then the U.S. Maritime Administration will set fair market values and Kinsman will have until December 15th, 1974, to sell the vessels at a price not exceeding the Determined value. If still unsold, Kinsman will have until December 15th, 1975, to sell them at the best price obtainable. If they still have found no buyers, a broker will be appointed to dispose of the ships.
It should be noted that C.L. AUSTIN, A.E. NETTLETON, B.F. JONES and EDWARD S. KENDRICK are not included in the above requirements although they have been purchased by Kinsman. The judgment requires that the JONES and KENDRICK be sold within one year, but specifies nothing with respect to either AUSTIN or NETTLETON. We night assume that JONES and KENDRICK will be scrapped since they have now been idle for some time. The judgment forbids Kinsman replacing the steamers once they are sold, and also prohibits replacement of the other three steamers which must be sold. (It appears the job of selling vessels will not be difficult, since the HILLMAN JR. has already been disposed of to the Columbia fleet.)
One of the terms of the decree requires that Litton Systems Inc. (the old parent of Wilson Marine) make a good-faith effort for three years to operate its Hull 102 (the barge now building at Erie, Pa.) but Litton will be permitted to bare-boat charter her to another operator during the specified period.
As for the future, the size of the Kinsman fleet will be strictly regulated and for five years the fleet will not be permitted to increase the number of vessels operated. It may replace vessels lost or sold (other than those the judgment requires to be sold) by similar tonnage, but if it decides to purchase a ship, it will have to dispose of one already in the fleet. Thus, for five years to come, the Kinsman fleet will have exactly twenty ships.
In the immediate future, Kinsman will have to weed out some of its older vessels in order to keep to the number of vessels it had prior to the Wilson acquisition. We can look for a number of scrappings, we fear.
The whole thing is really quite involved and, despite the fact that Kinsman is getting some good ships in the deal, we wonder whether the Steinbrenners will regret having become involved in the messy situation. One thing is good - it will keep making lots of news for us to report in these pages!
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.