Federal marshals will sell the Sequoia, once a presidential yacht, unless a financially troubled non-profit organization that claims title to the vessel can raise more than $3 million for unpaid bills.
U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar ruled that is how much the Presidential Yacht Trust owes Norshipco for restoration and storage fees.No representatives of the trust appeared at a hearing Friday to dispute the bills. A judgment order is expected next week.
The 104-foot yacht, which was dropped from service by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 because he considered it an unnecessary frill, was to have been auctioned this past week but the trust managed to delay the sale to try to raise the money to satisfy the debts.
The vessel was sent to Norshipco for storage in 1989 when the trust faced huge lawsuits. The organization purchased Sequoia in 1981 and began raising money to restore it and return it to presidential use.
In November it was impounded by federal marshals when Norshipco concluded its bills were not likely to be paid.
The Sequoia fetched only $286,000 the last time it was sold, "but it was in very poor shape," according to Carter Gunn, a Norfolk lawyer who represented Norshipco.
The company did $3 million in repairs on the vessel in 1986, he said, and an appraisal last January valued it at more than $3.2 million, he said.
The Sequoia was the scene of John F. Kennedy's last birthday party and Franklin Roosevelt planned parts of World War II strategy aboard it.