Someday, the Russians may dock a warship by the Inner Harbor promenade. And so may the Chinese, the Guatemalans, the Albanians and the Pakistanis.
At least that's the hope of Baltimore port officials, who gave military commanders from those nations and about 30 others a tour of the Inner Harbor yesterday in the hopes of bringing warships, tall ships and other vessels to Harborplace.
"A great many people have expressed interest in getting acquainted with Russians, so we would like to send a ship here," Cmdr. Sergey Prodanov of the Russian Navy said, looking at the Baltimore skyline during a boat tour of the harbor. "I think our officers would like baseball."
Commander Prodanov and the others, including four rear admirals, traveled to Baltimore by bus from Washington, where most are stationed as naval attaches. Along with the boat ride, the officers got a tour of Camden Yards and the National Aquarium.
"We have an ulterior motive for bringing you here today, and that isto get you and your lovely vessels to come to the great port of Baltimore," said Bill MacIntosh, a board member of Sail Baltimore. The nonprofit group woos ships to the harbor as money-making tourist attractions.
Competition for foreign ships has gotten much more intense in recent years as port cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., have recognized the economic boon that a tourist harbor place can bring.
Officers from Poland, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Colombia and Chile were served chicken and beef pita pockets as the sound system on the Royal Blue cruise ship played such songs as "Under the Boardwalk" and "The Electric Slide."
"Bangladesh is a long, long way off, but Baltimore seems like a wonderful city," said Ahmed Mansur, a brigadier general from that country who sipped a beer on the boat.
General Mansur said his country usually sends naval training ships to nearby nations such as India and Pakistan, so it's doubtful that a ship would be sent as far away as Baltimore.
"But I'll come back myself and see a real baseball game someday," he said.