Thursday, July 7, 2016

Another Way to Finance a Ship

While most players are familiar with the use of mortgages for purchasing starships, historically, another method was use for the purchase of ships. I learned about this at the Maine Maritime Museum a few weeks ago on vacation.

Basically, it's setting up a small corporation or partnership to own it.

On the Maine coast, ships, like the massive six masted schooner Wyoming, would have shares sold on the basis of one sixty fourth of the cost to build the ship. One share would be for the Captain, and usually the man or firm who bought the most shares would be the nominal 'owner' and make the decision on naming the ship. Ownership as little as one twelfth of the whole ship would be a man the owner.

As a comparison, Wyoming cost $175,000 to build in 1909, about $4,400,000 today. This compares to the MCr 37.08 cost of a Classic Traveller Type A, or MCr 36.57 for Mongoose Traveller 1e. That puts one share in Classic Traveller at Cr 579,375, or MgT Cr 571,3593.38. You can spread out the risk across more shareholders than the standard sole proprietor owner-operator free trader.

While this option would mean your ship can no longer operate that freely, as it's now the property of a group of people, there is no longer the overhead of owing the mortgage payment each month. Instead, any return after 'overhead' is complete gets split up into the ownership group as a return of capital. This does mean the captain needs to get his annual maintenance in, though. Smart captains might seek to start buying out some of the smaller shareholders also.

For those Travellers who wish to purchase a ship in this method, I recommend having a Bwap purser, working through Hortalez et Cie, LIC or another Megacorporate banking arm, or being willing to take on an accountant.