(UPDATED to reflect that the meeting day, December 19th, is next Monday)
That’s a file photo of the USNS Bob Hope – a Military Sealift Command ship that might be berthed next year at West Seattle’s Terminal 5. Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint Seattle-Tacoma ports’ organization) spokesperson Tara Mattina tells WSB that a special public meeting is set for next (updated) Monday (December 19th) to discuss a plan for the NWSA to join Foss Maritime in seeking a contract for the ship to be berthed at T-5. This would require Foss to have a deal with the port beyond the February expiration of its the one it has now. First, some background, from Mattina:
The USNS Bob Hope is the first ship in the Navy’s first class of large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), and is part of the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC). The primary mission of these ships is to transport shore-based equipment and supplies in support of military and humanitarian operations.
This past summer the Bob Hope participated in the Cascadia Rising earthquake recovery exercise. These ships are a key asset in recovery efforts in the event of a widespread natural disaster.
The ships are operated by 30 civilian mariners who work for a private company under contract to MSC and up to 50 embarked military personnel who monitor and maintain the equipment being transported. The ships are maintained in reduced operational status, which means they are operationally ready in four days.
Should Foss and the NWSA be successful in winning this bid, the ship would berth at Terminal 5. The Navy plans to run the ship on shore power while at berth.
This type of interim use for Terminal 5 is part of the alliance’s strategic business plan to diversify cargo and maximize terminal use. It will in no way interfere with the modernization of the terminal and the goal of creating a first-class container terminal.
Lots of additional information is in this memo attached to the agenda for next (updated) Monday’s meeting. It says that the branch of General Dynamics that operates the Bob Hope and similar ships is seeking “berth space, facilities, services, equipment and support in order to maintain USNS Bob Hope in ready-reserve status for a base term of one year.” That year would be the entirety of 2017, with the possibility of extending the contract “up to four additional 1-year terms.” The document also says “The RFP provides for other vessels to moor during times when USNS Bob Hope is away from berth” and that this could bring in at least $300,000 a year. It also notes that Foss’s lease for T-5 ends in February, so the NWSA would have to make a new deal with Foss in order for that company to handle this. (The Bob Hope is currently in San Diego.)
If you have something to say about this, there’s a public-comment period during the meeting at 8:30 am next (updated) Monday at Pier 69 downtown (2711 Alaskan Way), or you can e-mail email@example.com.
P.S. The tanker Evergreen State is the ship you’re currently seeing at T-5. We asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about it after a Seattle Fire medical call to T-5 earlier this week. He explains, “Foss still has a 50-acre lease at T-5; they received a call over the weekend that the Evergreen State needed a berth to undertake some repair work to the piping. The vessel will be at T-5 until the work is complete. Although a tanker, its voids are dry and empty.”