The Ship Mortgage Act provides that a preferred ship mortgage, that is one which complies with the requirements of the act, shall have priority over all except "preferred maritime liens." It then proceeds to define preferred maritime liens as those liens arising before the recording and indorsement of the preferred mortgage in question, and also those liens arising from damages resulting from torts, those arising for wages of a stevedore when employed directly by the owner or operator, master, ship's husband or agent of the vessel, and those arising for the wages of the crew, for general average and for salvage. It will be noticed that this enumeration does not include many maritime liens, arising either by virtue of the general maritime law or of the Maritime Lien Act. The consequence would seem to be that where there existed against a ship one or more of each class of lien the claims secured by them should be satisfied in the following order: (1) preferred liens, (2) ship mortgage, (3) non-preferred liens. This would be simple enough if those liens denominated "preferred" by the Act were, by the general maritime law, always superior to other maritime liens. But unfortunately for the cause of simplicity this is not so.
Orlo B. Kellogg,
Notes and Comments,
Priorities Puzzle under Ship Moorage Act,
Wash. L. & Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol2/iss2/4