§ 866. Establishment and operation of steamship lines between ports of United States

Investigation and determination by Secretary—The Secretary of Transportation is authorized and directed to investigate and determine as promptly as possible after June 5, 1920, and from time to time thereafter what steamship lines should be established and put in operation from ports in the United States or any Territory, District, or possession thereof to such world and domestic markets as in his judgment are desirable for the promotion, development, expansion, and maintenance of the foreign and coastwise trade of the United States and an adequate postal service, and to determine the type, size, speed, and other requirements of the vessels to be employed upon such lines and the frequency and regularity of their sailings, with a view to furnishing adequate, regular, certain, and permanent service.
Sale or charter of vessels—The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to sell, and if a satisfactory sale cannot be made, to charter such of the vessels referred to in section 863 of this Appendix or otherwise acquired by the Secretary of Transportation, as will meet these requirements to responsible persons who are citizens of the United States who agree to establish and maintain such lines upon such terms of payment and other conditions as the Secretary of Transportation may deem just and necessary to secure and maintain the service desired; and if any such steamship line is deemed desirable and necessary, and if no such citizen can be secured to supply such service by the purchase or charter of vessels on terms satisfactory to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation shall operate vessels on such line until the business is developed so that such vessels may be sold on satisfactory terms and the service maintained, or unless it shall appear within a reasonable time that such line cannot be made self-sustaining.
Preference in sales or charters—Preference in the sale or assignment of vessels for operation on such steamship lines shall be given to persons who are citizens of the United States who have the support, financial and otherwise, of the domestic communities primarily interested in such lines if the Secretary of Transportation is satisfied of the ability of such persons to maintain the service desired and proposed to be maintained, or to persons who are citizens of the United States who may then be maintaining a service from the port of the United States to or in the general direction of the world-market port to which the Secretary of Transportation has determined that such service should be established.
Lines established by shipping board; continued operation—Where steamship lines and regular service had been established and were being maintained by ships of the United States Shipping Board on June 5, 1920, such lines and service shall be maintained by the Secretary of Commerce until, in the opinion of the Secretary, the maintenance thereof is unbusinesslike and against the public interests.
Additional lines established by Secretary; rates and charges—Whenever the Secretary of Transportation shall determine, as provided in this Act, that trade conditions warrant the establishment of a service or additional service under Government administration where a service is already being given by persons, citizens of the United States, the rates and charges for such Government service shall not be less than the cost thereof, including a proper interest and depreciation charge on the value of Government vessels and equipment employed therein.