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THE ADVANCE

DISTRICT COURT, E.D. PENNSYLVANIA


February 19, 1942

THE ADVANCE; GENERAL SUGAR ESTATES, Inc.,
v.
THE ADVANCE

The opinion of the court was delivered by: GANEY

GANEY, District Judge.

This matter arises in admiralty by reason of the fact that the Steamship "Advance" of Finnish Registry, which had been idle in the port of Philadelphia was on the 27th day of December, 1941, formally requisitioned by the United States Maritime Commission by virtue and in pursuance of the Act of Congress of June 6, 1941, 46 U.S.C.A. note preceding section 1101. Thereafter, on December 31, 1941, the libellant filed its libel in rem to recover for cargo damage and a writ of attachment issued. Accordingly, since the Advance had been idle in the port of Philadelphia for sometime before the Government requisitioned the title under the Act of June 6, 1941, which is later adverted to, the libellant must have had opportunity to have asserted its lien claim during that interim. It did not do so but filed its libel after the Advance had been requisitioned. On January 13, 1942, the United States filed a motion to vacate the writ of attachment and dismiss the libel which is presently before the court for disposition.

The rights of the libellant are to be determined here according to the provisions of the Act of June 6, 1941, by authority of which the vessel was requisitioned. This act provides a complete system for the requisition of vessels, the determination of just compensation and appropriate remedy for the payment of maritime liens. It provides for the determination of just compensation by the Maritime Commission and when so determined, for the payment of the amount into the Treasury of the United States. When the fund is deposited, it is available for the payment of any valid maritime or attachment lien claim against the vessel. The holder of this maritime lien or attachment lien is permitted to commence within six months after the deposit a suit in Admiralty according to the principles of libels in rem against the fund in the United States District Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the vessel was lying at the time of the requisition. The rights of the party are to be heard and determined according to the principles of law and the rules of procedure obtaining in like matters between private parties. The process issued by the Court thereunder is served by service of the libel and the writ on the United States Attorney and by mailing by registered mail copies of the libel and writ to the United States Maritime Commission and the Attorney General. Due notice otherwise is to be given as the Court may direct. The Act provides the comprehensive plan for the requisitioning of vessels under foreign flag as well as securing compensation to all parties, including those who had existing lien rights against the vessel at the time of the requisition. The rights of the libellant in this case are therefore fully protected. He is requisited to follow the procedure provided by the Act by filing a libel against the compensation fund deposited with the Treasury within the six months' period. If such action be brought and his rights to the maritime lien established and the amount thereof, payment of the final decree entered in the proceedings will be made out of the moneys so deposited.

 To hold that there is a right to maintain a libel against vessels acquired by the United States, and that such vessels are subject to attachment under the process of the Court, would seriously interfere with the use and operation of these requisitioned vessels in the important services to which they have been assigned, and which we feel was not within the contemplation of Congress.

 The Supreme Court in United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation v. Rosenberg Bros. & Co., 276 U.S. 202, 48 S. Ct. 256, 72 L. Ed. 531, and Johnson v. United States Shipping Board, etc., Fleet Corporation, 280 U.S. 320, 50 S. Ct. 118, 74 L. Ed. 451, required the holders of maritime liens against the vessel to pursue the remedy which the Act provides and required the application of this exclusive theory.

 In conformity herewith the libel against the Steamship "Advance" is dismissed and the attachment therein is hereby quashed.

19420219

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