On a clear, bright morning, the kind that would have been perfect for sailing, about 35 people gathered in the Inner Harbor today to remember four Pride of Baltimore crew members lost at sea six years ago.
The captain, Armin E. Elsaesser III, along with crew members Barry Duckworth, Vincent Lazarro and Nina Schack, were lost when the ship went down in a violent squall near Puerto Rico on May 14, 1986. Eight other crew members managed to escape and drifted in a life boat for 4 1/2 days until they were rescued by a Norwegian freighter's crew.
Today's brief memorial service was at the Pride memorial at the east end of Rash Field in the Inner Harbor. Current members of the Pride's crew, dressed in their maroon uniform shirts and khaki pants, were in attendance, along with friends and others associated with the ship.
Rev. William McKeachie, pastor of Old St. Paul's Church and chaplain for the Pride of Baltimore II, offered prayers for the dead crew, "for lives given in courage, and in strength and in service."
"We hold in precious memory this day Armin, Nina, Barry and Vincent, who offered their lives in service and, in the end, in sacrifice on the Pride of Baltimore," intoned Reverend McKeachie.
He also prayed for the safety of the Pride II crew, due to set sail again in a week.
"Shower all those who sail on the Pride II with thy spirit," he prayed.
After the service, Pride II Captain Jan C. Miles, who also served as a second captain on the original Pride, said that so much of the success ofthe current Pride rests on the work done by those who came before.
"It's kind of a cruel irony," he said.
On the Pride II's recent European voyage, his greatest impression was the fact that people there remembered the original ship.
"It was absolutely striking how many people know about it, knew about the disaster," he said.
Michael C. McGeady, deputy director of the Pride of Baltimore Inc. and a former crew member, said storms like the one that sunk the Pride can happen at any time.
Whenever a ship sails, "you really don't know . . . what you're going into. You trust your skills, you trust your crew. But what you can't count on is nature, which intervened here," he said.
The Pride of Baltimore sailed more than 150,000 miles over nine years, promoting the city before it sank.
The Pride II was commissioned in 1988.
The crew of the Pride II is scheduled to leave for Puerto Rico on May 21, where it will join up with the Columbus 500 tall ships flotilla. It will mark the Pride's first trip to the island since the 1986 disaster.
From there, the ship will sail for New York Harbor, where it will lead the Grand Parade of Sail, a parade of tall ships, on July 4. The original Pride was sailing to the same parade when the storm hit.
The Pride will continue to Boston before returning to the Chesapeake Bay in early September.