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'Pirates' Ships

June 02, 1985

The Sunday front-page feature (" 'Pirates' Ho!," by Joan Borsten, May 26) should have been titled " 'Pirates' Ha!"

No self-respecting freebooter would ever put to sea in a grossly absurd craft as the Neptune and expect to catch any prey. Its length of 220 feet and a reported width of 90 feet are more the proportions of a modern oil barge.

The largest American wood-and-canvas war ship, the USS Pennsylvania (1837) mounting 120 guns, was only 57 feet wide! The best known pirate of the 17th Century, Capt. Kidd, commanded Adventure Galley (124 feet) and reputedly could make 14 knots under full press of sail. Roman Polanski's awkward scow would be hard put to get out of its own way.

Polanski could not have been ". . . like the pilot in control of all systems" when his Art & Fantasy Department sold him on the idea of an $8-million "Spanish Galleon." Whoever conceived the Neptune was the real pirate.

LIONEL C. MEEKER

Temecula

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