7:42 AM: Thanks for the photos and texts! That was the double-take scene in Elliott Bay this morning – the heavy-lift ship Zhen Hua 31 carrying four huge cranes, which just yesterday afternoon – as chronicled here – was last seen headed for Tacoma. When we stopped watching, MarineTraffic.com showed it south of Burien. So why was it back off West Seattle this morning? We just checked with Northwest Seaport Alliance spokesperson Katie Whittier, who told us, “The crane vessel left Commencement Bay overnight because the anchors were not setting in the bay floor. … We expect them back in Tacoma at some point this morning.” She promises more details later. Meantime, the ship has indeed sailed south – again – and is shown as off Burien – again.
(Photo by Chris Frankovich, as ship passed southernmost West Seattle this morning)
10:15 AM: More from NWSA’s Whittier:
The cranes have been back in Commencement Bay for a bit over an hour now. We don’t know yet whether they’ve successfully anchored. Last evening when they anchored, they began to drift, so they pulled up the anchor and tried a second location. The same thing happened there, so the captain decided to return to Elliott Bay where he had successfully anchored earlier in the day during the pilot change. A different anchorage location in Commencement Bay will likely be available today but was occupied yesterday.
The engineers will board the vessel after it completes Customs. If all goes according to plan, that will happen late this morning. I should have more information by the end of the day, but as you can imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces and other decision-makers involved in the next steps. Our hope is to bring them to berth by the end of Friday, though that depends on when other ships arrive—unlike last year, Husky Terminal is now a fully-operational facility so we must schedule the cranes to move between other vessel calls.
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