Durmitor 2: return of the freighter Ship once stuck here for 5 years is back for short stay, minor repair

January 24, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

The Durmitor is back in town.

Same ship. Same No. 2 anchorage half a mile off Canton. Different reason.

Maybe this time it'll weigh anchor before 2003.

The Yugoslavian vessel that was tied up here for five years amid the politics of the Bosnian conflict was being detained at the same spot yesterday for mechanical reasons. It was waiting for a faulty steering mechanism to be repaired.

Frank Revill, the agent for the ship's owner, Jugooceanija Shipping Co., thought he had heard the last of the freighter for a while when it left Baltimore in June. He was taken aback when he recently got word that it was returning.

"I was told by an agent in Tampa, 'We got a vessel coming there called the Durmitor.' I said, 'Not the Durmi. ' '" Before he could finish, he said, the other agent told him, "Yes, the same ship."

The 17,400-ton, 520-foot cargo carrier arrived Tuesday via Norfolk, Va., from Savannah, Ga., where workers had remedied a small problem with the actuating mechanism, which accepts signals from the wheelhouse to control direction.

When the ship arrived in Baltimore, Coast Guard officers came aboard.

David Hollowood, Coast Guard marine safety coordinator, said the officers were told that "the steering control system was not functioning properly" and needed more work.

Revill, general manager of Capes Shipping Agencies, and Hollowood said the repair is minor and routine.

The Coast Guard's captain of the port of Baltimore, Charles L. Miller, ordered the vessel to be detained and to pass inspection before leaving, the usual procedure for certain problems with ships in the port.

The ship and its crew of 24 had unloaded tractors here. Revill said yesterday that he expected the empty freighter to be repaired overnight or today and move to the Annapolis anchorage to await orders.

The merchant ship, with a bored and frustrated crew, was a fixture in Baltimore's harbor from 1992 until last year.

fTC The ship was on a routine voyage along the North and South American coasts in 1992 when it fell victim to a U.S. freeze of Yugoslavian assets during the Bosnian conflict.

It had to unload its cargo of General Motors machinery. It rotated crews every seven to nine months during the embargo. The sailors appreciated people who befriended them in Baltimore.

"Very nice city," said Capt. Luka Brguljan, who served two tours on the ship that went nowhere. "Everything nice. Good people."

The sailors wanted to go to sea or go home. They usually remained on board but occasionally slipped away on a dinghy supplied by former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

They played basketball and soccer on impromptu shipboard courts, read, played cards, watched television, chipped away at rust and dreamed of leaving town.

The State Department announced March 11 last year that the vessel and four others in other ports could get under way in 90 days. The Durmitor weighed anchor just before noon June 4 and headed for Spain.

The Baltimore repairs are likely to be quick and the ship's stay shorter this time.

"I hope so," said Revill.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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