Five days and 1,600 miles after it left Los Angeles on a 9,000-mile voyage to Europe, the 1945 cargo ship S.S. Lane Victory and its crew of World War II merchant seamen are limping into port in Acapulco with a broken engine boiler.
But the ship's 54 volunteer crew members, whose average age is 68, hope the ship will still be able to make it to June 6 ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the Normandy coast of France.
"The prognosis is good," said Bob Lace, treasurer of the San Pedro-based U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, which owns the 455-foot vessel. Lace said radio reports from the ship indicated that oil had leaked into one of two boilers. Although the leak was repaired at sea, the boiler still has to be cleaned out with chemicals that are available only in port.
Lace said that as of Wednesday morning the Lane Victory was 60 miles off Acapulco and heading for the port at five knots, one-third its usual cruising speed. If the contaminated boiler can be cleaned in Acapulco, in a few days the ship could resume its voyage to the Panama Canal and then across the Atlantic. If not, the trip may have to be canceled.