Freighters parked north of Blake Island

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    Does anyone know the story of why the freighters are parking North of Blake Island again?



    Couple people have asked about this via email. My reply:

    It’s long been an anchorage – the Coast Guard administers – usually ships waiting to call at Seattle or Tacoma.

    Some context in this 2016 story

    Why more cargo ships are anchored off Manchester – and why the Coast Guard says it’s a good thing


    Of the two there now, Triumph recently called in Tacoma, and is due next in Vancouver. Morning Cloud is due to dock in Seattle – it’s a bulk carrier so could be headed for the grain terminal (which is busy with another ship right now) or possibly the Duwamish (less likely).



    Litcandle. Unlike container ships that are on a schedule and go straight to the dock to get unloaded and reloaded(a few exceptions as you see the occasional container ship anchored) the bulk carriers you see are loaded at the grain terminal in the order they get here(1st come 1st serve). Coming here from their last unload the charterers simply route them here to wait. I’ve seen them sit n. of Blake for a month before getting loaded.



    CarDriver, you’re correct. The bulk carriers wait longer to load/unload than container ships. Usually they anchor in Commencement Bay, Elliott Bay, Yukon Harbor and elsewhere, due to their cargoes, drafts, terminals, etc. Grain carriers cannot load in rain. If the grain gets wet, it will swell and could burst the seams of the ships, which would be catastrophic. Some gypsum/gravel ships anchor in Elliott Bay because of the water depth alongside some of their terminal destinations in the Duwamish, due to tides. It’s sometimes more economical to offload to barges while at anchor. Winters are wetter here, resulting in more grain ships waiting at anchor to load. Seasonally, ships carrying cargoes of road salt will anchor, usually in Yukon Harbor, and offload to barges which are then taken to facilities in the Duwamish.



    Pelicans. You’re right, there are a variety of cargo’s. Also right that it’s more economical to load a ship with sand in BC rather than a LOT of barge loads Been common to see ship’s anchored in Elliot bay(and Yukon harbor occasionally)unloading sand for the cement plant’s in the Duwamish. The plant on E marginal can’t handle ship’s but not sure why they don’t bring a ship in to the cement plant just S. of Harbor Island. I’ve seen freighters docked there(back in the 60’s). Maybe silted up enough they don’t have the depth? Dad kept his boat at Riverside marina from 1964 till the port demolished it in the early 80’s. Port was going to develop it but never did.



    There are so many facilities in the river that handle rocks, gravel, gypsum, etc. Of those that accomodate only barges, I have a feeling one of the reasons may be water depth at the terminal, and another may be that they simply don’t have the equipment to offload ships. A few years ago a lot of WS residents felt the ongoing mystery of the “West Seattle Hum” had been solved by finally attributing it to the enormous vacuums (?) that sucked up gravel.



    What is the environmental impact of these idle/idling ships? Are they running on fuel? What about sewage, etc.? Are they silent, or is there engine noise?

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