Bright as a star, named for an astronaut: What those bright lights across Puget Sound from West Seattle turned out to be

July 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

(USNS John Glenn last night, WSB photo at twilight, from a distance)
ORIGINAL MONDAY REPORT: For the past few weeks, people with west-facing views from West Seattle have been noticing a new and VERY bright light from the Manchester vicinity (map). The WSB Forums even had a thread going for a while, and that led to the theory that the lights were coming from, or related to, a certain ship that’s been at the Manchester Naval Fuel Depot about that long, and finally confirmed it last night by taking a ride on the Seattle-Bremerton state ferry. The ship is the USNS John Glenn, a mobile landing platform that was just dedicated a few months ago. Here’s a US Navy file photo:

We observed the lights on the port (left) side of its superstructure, rising. Today, a spokesperson for Manchester told WSB earlier today that lighting is required when fuel/fluid operations are under way at night. What we’re still trying to find out is – if this is even available as public information – how long the USNS John Glenn, which apparently does not yet have a homeport, will be there. But since we’re still getting inquiries about this, we didn’t want to wait any longer to share the answer of WHAT the lights are.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The John Glenn headed out this morning and MarineTraffic.com now shows it almost to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, heading west.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: The JG is back at Manchester, bright lights and all, tonight. (Photo above, taken this afternoon by Gary Jones.)

LATE SUNDAY NIGHT: The John Glenn left Manchester at noon today and did NOT come back – we discovered this after noticing the westward view devoid of the bright lights. As of midnight, it was out of the Strait of JdF and heading south past the Washington seacoast.

7 Comments

  1. It looks like a FLO-FLO, float on, float off type of transport. And of course Wikipedia had it covered:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USNS_John_Glenn_%28T-MLP-2%29

    Comment by JayDee — 6:15 pm July 28, 2014 #

  2. That’s the same page the name of the ship is linked to in the story. Just FYI. If I can’t find the actual official page of an entity of any kind, I am not a Wikipedia-hater – you can easily check their work.

    Comment by WSB — 6:56 pm July 28, 2014 #

  3. My bad, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t incorrectly stating it’s function. In the Age of The Google, it is hard to be a know-it-all…

    Comment by JayDee — 7:40 pm July 28, 2014 #

  4. We even wondered if it was maybe going to participate in Seafair/Marine Week, since one of its functions (listed) is potentially transportation of hovercraft Marine landers … but a U.S. Navy rep assured us today, no, it’s not here for Seafair. Too bad – that would have been a sight!

    Comment by WSB — 7:43 pm July 28, 2014 #

  5. It’s been at Manchester for close to a month (I think) – I actually saw it leave for a day or two
    a couple of weeks ago – thought that it had left for good and then all of a sudden it showed up again!

    Comment by flynlo — 7:53 pm July 28, 2014 #

  6. I’m not sure if it’s a FLO FLO or not, it certainly resembles photos of the ship that transported the USS Cole after the bombing in Yemen. (Google pix of it easily.)

    The difference being the bow is distinctly ship-like on the Glenn, and distinctly not on the Cole transport.

    Comment by wakeflood — 8:28 am July 29, 2014 #

  7. I look forward to its departure. The light pollution is an eyesore at night.

    Comment by katedee — 11:37 am July 29, 2014 #

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