A simmering squabble over control of family-owned and operated Hy-line Cruises, which provides high-speed ferry service between Hyannis and the Islands, erupted into public view Tuesday when the dispute was raised at a meeting of the Steamship Authority governors.

Frederic F. (Skip) Scudder 2nd, the president of Hyannis Harbor Tours which owns Hy-line, has sued three of his cousins, claiming they are in a campaign to drive him out and prevent his children from succeeding him in the business co-founded almost 60 years ago by his father and uncle.

In a statement to the governors, R. Murray Scudder, vice president of operations for Hy-line, called the lawsuit “unfortunate” but said it would not affect ferry service.

“I want to assure the board members and management of the Steamship Authority, residents of the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, the town of Barnstable, the traveling public and most importantly, our many dedicated employees, that Hyline Cruises will continue to provide safe, reliable transportation to and from the Islands, without interruption, now and into the future,” he said.

In an oft-repeated local success story, brothers Richard M. and Robert F. Scudder along with E. Raymond Taylor created Hyannis Harbor Tours in 1962 to capitalize on the surge of interest in Cape Cod brought on by President John F. Kennedy’s election. From a single tour boat and three employees, the company moved first into deep sea charter fishing and later into ferry service. Today, the company employs about 350 people, about 100 of them year-round.

The two brothers, both now deceased, came to own 100 per cent of the company and their interest eventually went to their children. Robert’s 50 per cent shares are now owned by his son Skip, and Richard’s half ownership is equally divided among three of his children, Murray, Philip Scudder and Susan Scudder DeMartino.

In a lawsuit filed Dec. 6 in Barnstable superior court, Skip Scudder claims the company made decisions by consensus until 2017, when he moved to transfer his 50 per cent ownership to a trust for the benefit of his three children and ran into opposition from his cousins. The family ultimately agreed to a process for negotiating a buyout of Skip’s interest.

The lawsuit claims the cousins failed to negotiate in good faith, including creating a “fictional board” to deprive him of his rights. It further claims that Murray, who runs the day-to-day operations of the business, has taken steps to “squeeze out” Skip’s family and has provided lucrative jobs to his own son and his sister’s son while denying full-time jobs and management opportunities to Skip’s children.

In his statement, Murray acknowledged the family has been working for more than two years on a succession plan and possible buyout “which would allow the company to continue as a healthy and success family owned business into the next generation and beyond. To date, we remain unsuccessful in that regard, but we will continue to work toward that goal to an amicable conclusion.”

Murray Scuddder said he and his siblingss would file a detailed response to the lawsuit, but would have no further comment.