Plaintiffs and respondents, Amerada Hess Shipping Corp. and United Carriers, Inc., were respectively the charterer and owner of the Hercules, a crude oil tanker that was bombed in international waters by Argentine military aircraft during the war over the Malvinas or Falkland Islands. The ship was severely damaged and had to be scuttled off the coast of Brazil. After unsuccessfully seeking relief in Argentina, the companies filed suit against defendant and appellant, the Argentine Republic, in the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs argued that the federal courts had jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. §1350 (1982)), which confers federal jurisdiction over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The district court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (28 U.S.C. §§1330, 1602-1611 (1982)) (FSIA) is by its terms the sole basis of federal jurisdiction over cases against foreign states. A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court (per Rehnquist, C.J.) unanimously reversed the Second Circuit and held that the FSIA provides the exclusive basis of federal jurisdiction over suits against foreign states.