Tynwald has voted against setting up a committee to look at the benefits of possible public ownership of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Four of the island's politicians voted in favour of the idea and 17 against.
The debate lasted an hour and a half, followed a motion put forward by Michael member David Cannan.
He said he did not know if public ownership was "the answer", but added that the government "should get the best professional advice possible."
The Steam Packet Company came under scrutiny when a rival Manx freight service was set up in October.
The ensuing commercial battle led the Steam Packet to indicate jobs could be lost and passenger fares increased.
The Ramsey-based Mezeron's daily freight service between Douglas and Liverpool is a direct competitor for the Steam Packet, which operates services from Liverpool, Heysham and Birkenhead to Douglas.
MHK Chris Robertshaw seconded the motion.
MLC David Callister pointed out that government was already looking into the issue and another select committee is unnecessary.
He said: "We have already had a Select Committee report and there's a report on the way from the Office of Fair Trading. In addition there is a working group headed up by the Infrastructure Minister looking into the issue.
"Much is being done and achieved by this work - another committee doesn't make sense".