Cruise ship in harbor springs leak

February 14, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

The 213-passenger sightseeing cruise ship Baltimore Patriot II was spared a trip to the bottom of the Inner Harbor yesterday after a leak was discovered in the after section.

City firefighters spent about two hours yesterday morning pumping out water that had tilted the vessel at an angle that brought the rear deck down to the water level.

The firefighters also floated a boom to contain spilled fuel oil and were able to keep leakage down to about 1 gallon.

"Our main concern was the oil and pollution," said Fire Department Capt. John Kelly.

Danger from oil spillage would have been minimal unless the ship had sunk, said Robert Morris, operations manager for Maryland Tours Inc., which owns the ship.

Robert H. Spangenberg, a security guard at the nearby Constellation, saw the Patriot's distress when he arrived for work.

"The bow was way up in the air," he said. "There's a little taper to [the Patriot II] anyway, but nothing like that."

Firefighters arrived shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Russ Howerter, a chief bosun's mate with the Coast Guard inspections department, said the leak apparently came from a broken valve that allows water to flow into the ship as an engine coolant. After the valve broke, strainers that filter out debris and channel the water to the engine must have let water leak in slowly overnight, Mr. Howerter said.

Mr. Morris was making arrangements yesterday to have the ship towed to a yard to get the valve repaired.

"We're very relieved the boat didn't sink, but we're very unhappy got as far as it did," he said.

The Patriot II takes visitors on Inner Harbor cruises from April through October. Captain Kelly said the ship did not have an electrical connection at its berth, so no bilge pumps were running to remove water from the hold.

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