By Mark Edward Nero
On Dec. 19, the Northwest Seaport Alliance held a special meeting to approve a plan under which the Alliance would join Foss Maritime in an effort to win a contract to berth the USNS Bob Hope at a North Harbor terminal.
Should Foss and the NWSA be successful in winning the bid, the ship would berth at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5. The Navy plans to run the ship on shore power while at berth, according to the Alliance.
The 951-foot long USNS Bob Hope, which has a beam of 106 feet and a maximum draft of 34 feet and 10 inches, is the first ship in the US Navy's first class of large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), and is part of the Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC).
The primary mission of such ships is to transport shore-based equipment and supplies in support of military and humanitarian operations. They participate in recovery efforts in the event of a widespread natural disaster.
The vessels 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’re operationally ready in four days.
The Seaport Alliance, which is the name of the maritime operating agreement between the Seattle and Tacoma seaports, has said that this type of interim use for Terminal 5 is part of a plan to diversify cargo and maximize terminal use.
A contract to berth the vessel could bring in about $500,000 annually, according to Alliance staff. But it would in no way, the Alliance has said, interfere with a current terminal modernization plan.