City agrees to help HMS Bounty with access platform costs

Councilors question why city should pay
By Ben Holbrook | Aug 04, 2012
Courtesy of: HMS Bounty Organization, LLC The HMS Bounty

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

Comments (6)
Posted by: Harold Richardson | Aug 07, 2012 12:35

The people that say that the taxpayer shouldn't pay for this type of thing imply the downtown businesses are not taxpayers.  The schools eat up 65% of all property tax money in Belfast and the downtown businesses are probably paying half of that expense.  What if the downtown businesses said they didn't want their property tax money going to cover school expenses.  If it was up to me, I'd double the amount of money we spend promoting this City as it certainly has proven to have great results these last few years.  We all benefit from a healthy, vibrant downtown.  

Posted by: wellington dunbar | Aug 06, 2012 16:35

Is there an admission charge to board the ship?

Posted by: Win Hood | Aug 06, 2012 07:56

Congrats to a good host. Perhaps the Lightship Nantucket or USCG Eagle will follow suit.

Posted by: Harold Richardson | Aug 05, 2012 12:47

I toured the Bounty in Portsmouth NH a couple of years ago.  There were thousands of people and quite a long wait to get on board.  This is an insignificant amount of money to accomodate the many people that will come in to town for this special treat.  I agree a bit though with the first letter-I think the intown businesses should have a fund for some of these things.  Not because I don't think the City should cover it but I don't think the council/city should be involved with this trivial level of things.  They have way too much important things to deal with than this.  I wonder why the Harbor Master cannot just handle this out of the harbor budget without council approval.  Seems like a lot of hassle for a few hundred dollars.  A department head or city manager should have some flexibility within their budget for a special event of this type.  

Posted by: Dianne Horton | Aug 05, 2012 05:24

City of Belfast helping bring  people into town....Hmmmmm at this low cost?  Sounds fantastic to me. History, adventure, excitement, curiosity, and people will come here to spend money. This helps everyone, even the tax payer. I would hate  to think that the elected officials would shun this project and almost reject it  becasue of this small amount of money. Very scary.

Posted by: wellington dunbar | Aug 04, 2012 21:01

Make the Chamber and the commercial interests in Belfast foot the bill for access to the ship. The attraction alone will bring people to Belfast and they will spend locally. I do not think the taxpayer should pay for this.

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