MEBA Ships

Hello, one of the guys I work with often tells a tale that MEBA owned 3 of its own ships. I can’t find anything about it and when I question him he said the old guys use to talk about it. Any truth to this?

The pension plan through a subsidiary company they set up (First American Bulk Carrier Corp) financed the building of (2) 2000 TEU containerships in the mid 80’s. So yes, the MEBA through its pension plan owned 2 ships, (not 3).


They were built by Samsung in Korea and originally named the Tillie Lykes and Tyson Lykes. They ended their sailing lives as the Maersk Nebraska and Maersk Nevada. Scrapped in 2009


Well thats an interesting bit of history. Any idea if it ended up being profitable investment for the plan?

A pension fund, investing in its own company or its own business sector, is not a good idea.

My father was a miller in an oat mill. The mill built a new silo and their pension fund paid for it (probably the banks were cautious about the resale value of the new silo).
The very old mill was in the historic center of the city, with many restrictions for new constructions. They had all to look like the historic ones; therefore a very expensive construction without an economic reason.

Many years after my father’s retirement, the mill went bankrupt and was definitely closed.
The city took over the building of the historic mill as a museum, but not the silo.
The pension fund now had a useless oat silo for many, many millions in the books, and no possible buyer. The fund went bankrupt too!

Fortunately, Switzerland has a common fund, where all single funds must participate, to pay out the pensions for members of failed funds.


The ships were originally chartered to U.S. Lines and named the American Ohio and American Georgia. U.S. Lines went bankrupt in the mid-eighties. They were later circa. 1987 renamed as the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay and operated by Topgallant. Topgallant went bankrupt at the end of 1989 and the ships were under arrest in Bremerhaven Ger. for about nine months. They were then chartered by Lykes Lines and renamed the Tillie and the Tyson Lykes and operated by Nick Bachko Company.


You are correct. I meant to re-edit my post but it was getting late and I could see I was making too many errors then. Thanks for the correction.

To the question of was it profitable. I don’t think the pension plan lost money but it certainly wasn’t the money maker they had hoped for. I remember it being discussed in several meetings.

At least it wasn’t like the MM&P’s misadventure with the Monterey.


kudos for trying i guess, I only got one posting out of meba, it’s just as well for i ended up doing better working for the fed but although a very risky proposition it could of paid well but it could also bankrupt the fine pension of meba in quick order also. MEBA however would have a edge over many start ups as they have the resources to know the industry.

Thanks for the responses. I was curious because I here the story every time I am on watch with this guy. He said it was super successful. MEBA ran everything cutting cost without the dead weight of a owner with a private jet and overpaid office management types. He also said the other evil capitalist shipping companies put a stop to it and that’s why they no longer are able to do it.

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You can tell your watch-mate he is full of shit as far as them being “super successful”. I remember being at one of the meetings in New Orleans when then Gulf Coast VP, Tony Sasso, pitched the idea to the membership. They were originally going to be bulk carriers. That obviously changed. The bare bones of the story is that the MEBA’s Pension Plan built 2 MSP qualified ships on spec. US lines was the first company to charter them until they went under. Topgallant used them to get the government contract to haul stuff to Europe. (Very similar in some respects to what American Coastal did). They went under. The ships were arrested in Germany and the Pension Plan had to cough up money to get them released and back to the States. Lykes Lines took them until they were no more after which Maersk Lines chartered them until age made them ineligible for MSP money. Maersk ran them a little longer but they weren’t standard contract. Then they got scrapped.

They were described as troublesome investments in this article…


Unions, no matter which ones, are better at investing in the men, not the machines they operate. Some are better at it than others.

I surveyed both of them quite a bit back in the 90s.

What a good idea