Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation v. Shell Oil Company

PETITIONER: Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation
RESPONDENT: Shell Oil Company
LOCATION: Superior Court of San Diego

DOCKET NO.: 78-1651
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 444 US 572 (1980)
ARGUED: Nov 28, 1979
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Amy Loeserman Klein - for respondents
Andrew J. Levander - for federal respondents supporting petitioners
Stephen N. Shulman - for respondents
William E. McDaniels - for petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation v. Shell Oil Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 28, 1979 (Part 1) in Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation v. Shell Oil Company
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 28, 1979 (Part 2) in Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation v. Shell Oil Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 20, 1980 in Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation v. Shell Oil Company

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The other case, Seatrain Shipbuilding Corporation is here on certiorari from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The petitioner, Seatrain Shipbuilding received a construction differential subsidy of some $29 million under Title V of the Merchant Marine Act to construct the supertanker Stuyvesant.

And as required by Section 506 of the Act, the petitioner agreed to operate the Stuyvesant exclusively in foreign trade.

However, when construction of the tanker was completed, there wasn't any business in the foreign trade.

And petitioner, therefore, asked the Secretary of Commerce to accept a promissory note in the full amount of the $29 million subsidy and release the tanker from the restrictions that limited its use to foreign trade and precluded its use in domestic trade more particularly in the Alaska oil trade.

The Secretary granted the request and domestic trade competitors in the Alaska trade thereupon brought this action in the District Court for the District of Columbia for declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the Secretary from granting the requested release.

The District Court sustained the Secretary's action holding that that statute authorized the Secretary to take such actions and the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed.

We reversed.

We hold an agreement with the District Court that the statute does not limit the Secretary's powers in this regard.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Brennan.