Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Selling Baltimore to the world’s navies. That was basically the pitch made Wednesday to 40 nations.
Alex DeMetrick reports it’s an effort to bring ships here for the finale of the War of 1812 Bicentennial.
Naval attachés from 40 nations toured landmarks around Baltimore’s harbor. The centerpiece and sales prop was the U.S.S. Constellation.
“Welcome aboard and I hope you’re enjoying your day in Baltimore. We’re very much looking forward to having you and your ships here.”
Because these are the people who can help deliver them.
“It’s a recruiting opportunity for us,” said one person.
Recruiting paid off big time last year, when dozens of vessels — including a number of tall ships — gathered for the start of the War of 1812 Bicentennial.
Organizers are hoping for a similar turnout for the finale in September 2014. The decision on whether to send a vessel depends in part on who’s going to see it.
“It’s the political impact of sending a ship. So it’s important we have a lot of visitors to the ship,” said Capt. Michael Setzer, Germany.
With only so many tall ships afloat, the competition to attract them is intense.
“It’s huge, it really is. They are the prima donnas. As you may remember from Sailabration last year, we hosted 1.5 million during the week,” said Nan Nawrocki, President of Sail Baltimore.
And those 1.5 million visitors generated $166 million in revenue. It also gave the visiting nations plenty of favorable exposure. And that good PR, coupled with Maryland hospitality toward young crews, makes for a strong pitch.
“Our sailors were treated very, very good. So yes, Baltimore is one of the harbors we like to go,” said Capt. Setzer.
And hopefully return to next year.
Nations whose navies don’t include tall ships are also welcome. Current military vessels were a big part of last year’s display.