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Yugoslavian ship held in harbor for five years

March 26, 1997

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Five years after a Yugoslavian cargo ship dropped anchor in Baltimore Harbor, it’s still there, with a full crew.

It’s been there so long one of the original crew members moved ashore, met a woman, got married and started a family.

The freighter Durmitor was held in place when President George Bush froze assets associated with the Bosnian civil war.

This month, the State Department indicated the Durmitor, along with four other ships held in U.S. ports, may be allowed to leave in a few months.

It probably will take even longer than that, said Capt. Luka Brguljan.

First, anyone with possible legal claims on the ship must be notified. Then, the Durmitor must be inspected from bow to stern for safety and possible environmental threats, such as leaking oil, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Frank Shelley.

After that, Brguljan said, it will take at least another month in a shipyard to get the Durmitor ready to go to sea.

``My crew does not understand,″ Brguljan said.

``We want to go home. If you stay in one place, it’s not so nice,″ said Mato Vujovich, a 42-year-old mechanic.

Crew members are rotated about every nine months by the ship’s agent, Milena Shipping Co., but once here they rarely leave the 518-foot ship, which is anchored about a half-mile off shore.

Church groups, local businesses and other shipping companies try to help the men, who pass time by playing basketball and soccer, reading, playing cards and watching television _ when it works. The ship had no electricity for almost a month this winter.

One former crewman made the most of his stay in Baltimore.

Neno Uljarevic, 38, was the radio officer when the ship arrived in July 1992. He quit, but when he went to buy a ticket home he met travel agency employee Abby Scherr.

They were married in October 1993 and now have a 2-year-old son, Simon.

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