West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to the texter who just let us know that transient orcas (the ones who are NOT the Southern Resident Killer Whales) have been seen off Bainbridge, southbound, this afternoon. According to Orca Network commenters, they’re closer to the Kitsap side, so if you go to look, bring good binoculars. Our texter says Whale Scout will have a volunteer looking from Alki Point around 4:30.
Thanks to Alisa for the text: She says transient orcas are in the area, southbound, “slightly north of and between Alki and Restoration Point.” A little murky out there with the rain, but … let us know if you see them!
Thanks to Guy Smith for the photo, and to everyone else who texted/e-mailed – the aircraft carrier headed northbound this murky morning was the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). We’ve seen it relatively often in recent months, on a variety of semi-short trips following its big overhaul that wrapped up in Bremerton last year. No word yet what today’s departure is about.
P.S. In case you missed it – the aircraft carrier that went by on Saturday won’t be coming back – the USS Independence is on its way to a Texas scrapyard. As of late last night, the Independence and tow boat Dino Chouest were well out in the open Pacific, off Grays Harbor.
1:05 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s messaging us that an aircraft carrier, under tow, is visible right now from Beach Drive, even through the murk. It’s the decommissioned-since-1998 USS Independence, headed for the scrapyard. We’re off to try for a photo.
1:30 PM: It’s now passing south Bainbridge, more clearly in view from Constellation Park south of Alki Point. Just over two and a half years ago, another decommissioned carrier, the USS Constellation, passed West Seattle shores while also on its way to a Texas scrapyard.
1:40 PM: According to MarineTraffic.com, the orange tug is the 348-foot Dino Chouest. The Lindsey Foss is also shown as being with the Independence (which itself does not show on MT). Visible from Alki Beach now, and picking up speed.
According to the Kitsap Sun, the USS Kitty Hawk is now the only inactive aircraft carrier remaining in Bremerton, and it’s being kept in reserve until the USS Gerald R. Ford is in service (likely later this year).
Couple people (including Nate Hamilton, who shared the photo) wondered if the ferry under tow in Elliott Bay today was in trouble. We checked MarineTraffic.com for the ID, and learned it’s the new state ferry M/V Chimacum – NOT in trouble, just getting tested. Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling confirmed that Chimacum is out on testing runs starting today. We reported last September on its christening at Vigor on Harbor Island; the ferry’s construction was finished there, after its superstructure was built at, and transported from, Nichols Brothers on Whidbey Island. Sterling says the Chimacum is expected to go into service on the Seattle-Bremerton run in late spring/early summer.
P.S. Other ferry news today … WSF announced the sale of the M/V Evergreen State.
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo! As previewed here last night, the naval-museum ship USS Turner Joy was towed back to Bremerton today after almost a month in drydock on Lake Union (the Kitsap Sun explained last month what was planned). It’s expected to reopen for tours this weekend.
P.S. Historian Jean Sherrard published photos of its passage through the Ballard Locks.
Back on February 2nd, we showed you the museum ship USS Turner Joy, photographed by Gary Jones as it was towed past West Seattle, on the way from Bremerton to Lake Union for maintenance. Just heard KING 5 mention it’s heading back through the Ballard Locks and cross-sound to Bremerton tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and found this confirmation:
— USS Turner Joy (@USSTurnerJoy) February 28, 2017
So if you notice a Navy destroyer passing at mid-morning, this is the one.
Thanks to those who texted photos, including that one! That was the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), seen from Alki late this afternoon, headed back to Bremerton. It’s been gone for almost a month (we showed it outbound on January 31st) for training and inspection, according to the Kitsap Sun.
Thanks to Maggie for the tip: The long-laid-up cargo ship that was the latest Matson vessel to carry the name Lurline is off on its final voyage. From downtown, overlooking foggy Elliott Bay (photo at right), she spotted it being towed this morning from West Seattle’s Terminal 5, where it had arrived six weeks ago, as reported here, and we subsequently confirmed with the Port of Seattle that it had departed. It’s off to be scrapped. This report from last year says Matson has new vessels on order, including one that will be the sixth to carry the name Lurline.
Thanks to Dan Ciske for the photo of a boat fire off Bainbridge Island, visible from this side of the Sound. Here’s what the Bainbridge Island Fire Department says via Twitter:
Marine 21 and a Seattle fireboat are fighting a fire on a 40' boat off Rockaway Beach. One person onboard has been removed.
— Bainbridge Island FD (@bainbridgefire) February 14, 2017
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo! This is the USS Turner Joy, which, as he points out, is usually on display in Bremerton – it’s an official Naval Museum, decommissioned in 1982 after 23 years of service, including involvement in what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964 (read the ship-specific history here).
8:41 AM: Passing West Seattle, northbound in Puget Sound right now, that’s the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
8:47 AM: The carrier is moving fast – visible from Alki but it won’t be for long. It’s been preparing for deployment (from Bremerton) for a while, and just had a change of command a few weeks ago.
(ADDED: King County video, published day after event)
If you’re noticing a foot ferry in Elliott Bay that didn’t appear to be one of the King County Water Taxi fleet – that’s the Kitsap Transit fast ferry Rich Passage 1. It’s out on the bay right now after an official showcase on the downtown Seattle waterfront this morning, with King County Executive Dow Constantine and County Council Chair Joe McDermott speaking, because the King County Department of Transportation’s Marine Division will be operating the 78-foot Rich Passage 1 for KT. Kitsap voters approved a sales-tax increase to fund the new service; it’s scheduled to start running between Bremerton and Seattle this year, Kingston and Seattle next year, and Southworth and Seattle in 2020. The Rich Passage 1 is to be the first of six boats comprising the Kitsap Transit fleet. It was built by All American Marine in Bellingham, which also built the Doc Maynard and Sally Fox for the KC Water Taxi service.
1:41 PM: Just noticed via MarineTraffic.com that the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak has arrived at Terminal 5. The Port of Seattle told WSB on January 5th that it was due to stop at T-5 January 9-15, so we’ve been watching for it. The 821-foot Kocak is a “surge sealift ship,” as explained here. As previously reported, another Military Sealift Command ship, USNS Bob Hope, might berth here later this year – we haven’t heard yet whether the proposal by the port and Foss Maritime was accepted.
4:17 PM: Alki photographer David Hutchinson just sent photos of the Kocak’s arrival (thank you!) – added above.
ADDED 3:10 PM: Thanks to Lynn Hall for one more view – this one, from Duwamish Head itself:
More info on today’s race is here.
Visible from West Seattle this morning, in what’s known as the Yukon Harbor anchorage area, just off Manchester, north of Blake Island, a submarine joined the anchored cargo ships for more than an hour. Thanks to Tom Stoner for the photo (and to John for an earlier tip). An unusual sight – usually they’re just glimpsed while on the move – so we have a few calls out, but now it looks to be headed, with its tug escorts, into Rich Passage and toward Bremerton.
That’s a new 360-degree video shared by “Diver Laura” James – while the video is playing, you can grab and pull it with your cursor to look all around (provided your browser/device is compatible). She was experimenting “with the Samsung Gear 360 in a home-brew housing,” diving at Cove 2 by Seacrest Pier, a few days ago at dusk.
While out checking on the combination of gusty wind and 12+-foot high tide this past hour, we also saw this, from Constellation Park just south of Alki Point: The USNS Wally Schirra, headed northbound. We also showed it here when it was headed southbound back in October – later that month, it was out on exercises with Bremerton-based USS Nimitz. It’s a supply ship, part of the Military Sealift Command, but smaller than the USNS Bob Hope, which as reported here last week might berth next year at Terminal 5.
9 AM: Thanks for the tip! A texter tells WSB an aircraft carrier is about to pass West Seattle, and MarineTraffic.com identifies it as the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), headed southbound. According to the Kitsap Sun, the Stennis was in Hawaii earlier this month for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack (more here).
9:37 AM: Thanks to Doug Greenswag for the photo above!
10:30 AM: And thanks to Don Bereiter (from WSB sponsor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate) for the view from Port Orchard, above and below this line.
This was the second aircraft-carrier sighting from here in three days; the other carrier currently based at Bremerton, USS Nimitz, returned home early Thursday.
Thanks to those who sent us photos of another submarine sighting off Alki Point this afternoon – this photo is from Bruce Easter. Identifying a submarine is not as easy (for the non-expert, anyway) as identifying other types of Navy vessels, so we don’t know which one this was. Fewer submarines are homeported in Bremerton than in Bangor on Hood Canal, but passing subs aren’t necessarily homeported there – it’s also a base for maintenance and decommissioning.
Thanks to Alisa for the tip: Washington State Ferries reported southbound orcas about half an hour ago off Bainbridge Island’s Restoration Point. “Presumably residents,” she adds, noting that J-Pod was seen in the Sound yesterday. Please let us know if you see them!
9:51 PM: The Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship is wrapping up a night of stops in our area – Lowman Beach Park, Alki Beach Park, Duwamish Waterway Park on the river in South Park, and Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). At most park stops, bonfires keep the beachgoers warm:
The ship travels with musical groups on board, serenading passengers as well as those on shore, visiting an ever-longer list of stops around Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington during the holiday season. Its sailings continue nightly until Christmas Eve-Eve (December 23rd) – here’s the schedule on the Argosy site.
ADDED SUNDAY MORNING: More from the Alki stop – the photos and video are by Jeff Larson, for WSB. The Calvary Chapel “live nativity” is a fixture every year:
Kayla Laskovon portrayed Mary:
Musicians from Seattle Lutheran High School performed at the Bathhouse:
While the Christmas Ship is provided by Argosy, much of what happens onshore is courtesy of Seattle Parks. Below, John Hasslinger surrounded by his teen volunteers from Hiawatha Community Center:
Their work was appreciated by eventgoers:
And that bonfire? Overseen by James Lohman and Becky Lofso from Parks:
Check our Holiday Guide for more of what is in store as the holiday season continues.