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It's official: Court OKs sale of AQV coastal ships to John Waggoner

John Waggoner, who founded American Queen Voyages before selling to Crestview Partners well before the company's collapse, placed the winning bid for Ocean Navigator, here, and sister Ocean Voyager
The $1.9m sale of the two former American Queen Voyages lakes (coastal) vessels Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator to John Waggoner was approved by a bankruptcy court.

This was anticipated. Waggoner had been named by numerous sources as the victor in the April 1-2 auction. He founded American Queen Voyages, built up the company over a decade and was bought out by Crestview Partners well before AQV's collapse.

A spokesperson said Waggoner would not immediately be commenting. 

Great Lakes operations

The sister vessels had operated on the Great Lakes until the latest AQV owners decided to withdraw them from service in 2023 and put them up for sale. Subsequently, AQV parent Hornblower Group filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to shed its loss-making overnight cruise business.

Two bidders

According to court documents, Hornblower Group representatives identified two qualified bidders for the pair of coastals: Waggoner and Ship Management Group.

This sparked multiple rounds of bidding with Waggoner ultimately besting Ship Management Group's $1.8m offer. 

Ship Management Group and Bruce Nierenberg

Ship Management Group had operated the vessels on the Great Lakes for Victory Cruise Lines from 2016 until they were sold to AQV in January 2019

Victory founder Bruce Nierenberg was involved in the SMG effort. They were advised by maritime finance specialist HSB Capital Corp.