HONDAS-TO-JAPAN SHIP RETURNS TO US PORT

HONDAS-TO-JAPAN SHIP RETURNS TO US PORT

The big welcoming party planned by Honda officials for the scheduled March 22 arrival of the first U.S.-made Hondas in Japan has been postponed indefinitely.

The ship carrying the autos slipped quietly back into Portland Sunday to undergo repairs. The vessel, the Green Bay, had left Portland March 7 with 540 Ohio-made Hondas plus 100 Gold Wing U.S.-manufacturered Honda motorcycles.Tetsu Chino, Honda North America Inc. president, and Sen. Bob Packwood, R- Ore., were in the first car driven on the Mitsui Engineer & Shipbuilding Ltd.-built ship during hoopla marking the event.

Friday the ship's captain radioed vessel owner Central Gulf Lines of New Orleans that he was turning around and returning to Portland.

No one was willing to explain what happened. Port of Portland officials said Honda officials were embarrassed but referred calls to the ship's charterer, Act Maritime of Tokyo as did Honda officials.

The Japanese company also claimed no knowledge of what caused the ship to turn around.

Construction of the ship was completed Oct. 29. The vessel is now berthed at a port of Portland shipyard and is being checked out by Northwest Marine Iron Works.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. had planned a big gala event to mark the arrival of the autos on March 22.