City agrees to help HMS Bounty with access platform costsCouncilors question why city should pay
Belfast — City councilors agreed to pick up a portion of the costs to construct a platform to allow passengers to board and disembark from the storied HMS Bounty during its visit to Belfast.
The ship –– a replica of the 1762 vessel that was the scene of a mutiny –– appeared in the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” starring Marlon Brando. As part of its East Coast tour, the ship is scheduled to arrive in Belfast Harbor Aug. 10. However, a last-minute request to construct a platform to access the ship frustrated city councilors, who questioned why the city is being asked to incur expenses on behalf of the ship.
“They said they needed public access to the ship,” Harbor Master Katherine Pickering said. “What they did not tell me is that they expected the city to help.”
That help comes in the form of a platform that would stand 11 feet high to allow two, 20-foot ramps to attach, which would allow passengers to access the ship. Without the platform, Pickering said, the ship is too tall and the city’s floats too low to allow access with just the ramps.
Pickering said the platform would be constructed out of scaffolding, and she expected the price would be under $1,500.
In addition to the cost of the platform, the city agreed to waive the ship’s docking fee –– at a rate of $250 per foot for a vessel over 60 feet. However, Pickering said the ship would probably not come into the harbor if the city charged it to dock.
Councilor Nancy Hamilton voiced her displeasure with the Bounty’s request for city assistance.
“They’ll be here for 14 hours, so we’ll pay $100 an hour to let people go on board,” Hamilton said. “I think that’s piracy.”
Hamilton’s figures were based on the time the ship is accessible to the public for its two-day stay.
Councilor Marina Delune also expressed her frustration with the ship, noting the issue of access to the vessel is not a city problem.
“This is their problem. They should be paying for it,” Delune said.
Delune’s sentiments evoked some concern from Councilor Roger Lee, who questioned whether it would be wise to “snub them.” Delune quickly countered with her own question, asking Lee if he felt the crew of the HMS Bounty would choose not to come to Belfast because the city didn’t help pay for a platform.
Councilor Mike Hurley motioned to approve funding for up to half of the cost of constructing a platform, with a maximum expenditure of $800. The motion passed unanimously.
The money will be taken from the Harbor Projects account.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.