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Man Convicted in Steamboat Sinking

February 19, 1999 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A man laid off from his job on the Belle of Louisville, the oldest-running passenger steamboat in the country, was convicted Thursday of trying to sink it.

Brennan Callan, 32, could get as much as 20 years in prison for his attempted sabotage of a ship that has been a fixture along Louisville’s waterfront for decades.

A student at the University of Louisville, Callan worked in the engine room of the steamboat on a seasonal basis and was angry he had not been rehired in 1994, prosecutors said.

They said he slipped on board one night in August 1997 and opened a valve that flooded the ship’s hull, submerging the stern.

Hundreds of people crowded the shore when word spread that the Belle was sinking. The 85-year-old steamboat offered rides and every spring raced another steamboat, the Delta Queen, as part of the festivities leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

The ship has since been repaired and is running again.

Callan was charged with endangering a ship even though no one saw him do it, and there was no fingerprint evidence against him. However, he did not take the stand to explain his whereabouts. He was to remain free until his sentencing in May.