American Line


Dave Hudson

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Did the same company who owned the Leviathan own the United States? What about earlier ships like the St. Paul or St. Louis?

David
 
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The US and England divided up the spoils of war and the German Hamburg-Amerika ships Vaterland, Bismarck and Imperator were turned over to Cunard and White Star and became Berengeria(Cunard's ia ending). Majestic (White Star's ic ending) and Vaterland went to US Lines and became Leviathan. The Bismarck was not quite finished, had a fire and all sorts of complications. Her fittings instructions were in German as were Leviathan's-and the Germans were not inclined to turn over anything more than necessary as you can guess-by way of instructions. These 3 ships were Ballin's masterpieces- who could guess how they would turn out. For all the juicy details go to
http://www.greatoceanliners.net/
click on ship histories and scroll to MajesticII for all the juicy details.
 
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The St. Louis and the St. Paul belonged to The American Line, 1895 vintage. St. Paul had a REALLY colorful career, had a funnel redesign, smacked into a submerged wreck and tore off a starboard prop, which caused her engines to over-race, collided with and sank the British Cruiser "Gladiator" in 1908 with a loss of 27 lives, served in commercial runs for steerage and 2nd class after that until she was refitted in 1918 for a war transport ship and renamed "Knoxville"- she capsized a la Normandie at her berth, rolled over and was thought unsalvagable but she pulled through again and steamed 1920-23 under her original name until she was broken up in 1923 in Germany. What a tale.
 

Mark Baber

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In fact, the story is even a little more complex than Martin Cox's wonderful web site lets on. For not only are IMM and United States Lines Company one and the same, but International Navigation Co., which operated the American Line, is also the same company, in an earlier incarnation. Based on the sources I have at my fingertips, I'm 95% certain that the following is correct; a review of the corporate records of the New Jersey Secretary of State, which I'm in the process of trying to arrange if the records go back far enough, would clinch it.

Originally known as International Navigation Co., Inc., a New Jersey corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, the company ran the American Line, which operated St. Louis (http://www.greatships.net/stlouis.html) and St. Paul (http://www.greatships.net/stpaul.html) for their entire careers (except for their military service). In 1902, when J. P. Morgan's shipping trust was created, International Navigation was the corporate vehicle by which this was accomplished. The company was recapitalized and, in October 1902, renamed International Mercantile Marine Co. Its state of incorporation remained New Jersey, but its corporate offices were later moved to New York City.

Leviathan, of course, began her career as Hapag's Vaterland; see http://www.greatships.net/leviathan.html. After World War I, she was allocated to the United States as a war reparation and initially intended for IMM. That plan, though, was effectively killed by William Randolph Hearst, so the ship, renamed Leviathan, was placed in United States Lines (USL) service instead.

At first, USL was operated by the United States Shipping Board; later, it was turned over to a Delaware corporation called United States Lines, Inc., which is the Chapman-controlled company Martin refers to. This company, though, defaulted on its obligations to USSB, and in 1931, USSB took back control of its ships from the Chapman company. (Martin has this worded wrong on his page, I think. He says that Chapman foreclosed on USSB, when in fact it was the other way around: Chapman's USL defaulted and USSB foreclosed on it. I'll contact him about this.) A Nevada corporation, also called United States Lines, Inc., was then created to run USL and IMM was one of the owners of this corporation. IMM gained full control of USL on 5 July 1934; by then it owned 85 per cent of the common stock and 60 of the preferred stock of the Nevada corporation. Within two months, Leviathan was laid up for the last time, but for this brief time she was in effect owned by IMM, although operated by Roosevelt Steamship Co., which operated USL and acted as its sales agent until the end of 1934.

Finally, in May 1943, the Nevada corporation was merged into IMM, which still existed as a New Jersey corporation under the original International Navigation Co. corporate charter. At the same time, IMM changed its name to United States Lines Company, which is how the company was formally known for the remainder of the time that it operated USL, including the years when SSUS (http://www.greatships.net/unitedstates.html) was built and in service.

International Navigation ... International Mercantile Marine ... United States Lines Co. The same company, albeit at different times, with different names and different corporate structures.

Sources: Vail's The American Peril; Flayhart's The American Line; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway.

MAB
 

Mark Baber

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>The company (International Navigation) was recapitalized and, in October 1902, renamed International Mercantile >Marine Co.

After I posted this, I obtained a copy of an article from The New York Times, 2 October 1902, confirming this. According to the Times article, an amendment to International Navigation's corporate charter was filed in Trenton on 1 October. It changed International's name to IMM and increased its authorized capital from $15 million to $120 million. (Of this $120 million, $60 million was in 6% cumulative dividend preferred stock and the other $60 million was in common stock.) All of the stock had already been subscribed by the time IMM was created.

MAB
 

Mark Baber

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More details of the IMM transformation into USL.

The Nevada corporation called United States Lines was formed in 1931 by IMM, Dollar Steamship Lines, Inc., and Kenneth D. Dawson. By 1934, IMM owned 35% of USL, Dollar 25%, Dawson 20% and other investors 20%. In July 1934, IMM bought Dollar's interest, giving IMM 60% ownership (and, therefore, control) of USL. By 1943, IMM owned all of USL's common stock and 1,274,265 out of 1,487,681 preferred shares.

On 20 May 1943, IMM's shareholders approved the IMM-USL merger, and USL's shareholders did the same thing the next day. USL was merged into IMM, which changed its name to United States Lines Company, retaining the New Jersey corporate charter which had originally been International Navigation's. Each IMM shareholder received 2 shares of the "new" USL common stock, and (except for IMM) each of the USL preferred shareholders received one share of preferred stock in the "new" USL.

Source: The New York Times, 5 December 1931, 6 July 1934, 1 April 1943, 26 April 1943, 21 May 1943 and 22 May 1943.

MAB
 

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