In 1931 when a group headed by International Mercantile Marine bought the U. S. Lines from the Shipping Board, it contracted to send the giant S. S. Leviathan on seven transatlantic trips a year for five years. During the first year under this contract the Leviathan lost more than $500,000. Thereupon the U. S. Lines put her in dock at Hoboken, N. J., for a year, tried to persuade the Government to cancel its contract. The Government stood by its bargain, but the company had this loophole: U. S. Lines might omit two of the Leviathan's seven contracted trips on payment of a $20,000 fine.
Making the best of a bad bargain U. S. Lines stuffed $150,000 worth of improvements inside the Leviathan last spring and puffed her out across the Atlantic with some special advertising. By the time she had made the first round trip she had lost $143,000. Last week, at the peak of the travel season, she completed her fifth round trip less than half full. President P. A. S. Franklin of International Mercantile Marine, which controls operation of U. S. Lines, immediately announced that this money-losing monster's next stop would be its Hoboken morgue.