Snappy NWCitizen photography correspondent Doug Starcher provides these photos. He said it was a slow motion train wreck - with the ship breaking away mid morning in the high winds and slowly twisting on its stern lines to be broadside to the wind and nudge up against the bottom of Bellingham Bay.
According to the Bellingham Herald article, the cause was the ripping out of the wharf of the cleats the ship's mooring lines were attached to.
Two tugs arrived late morning and started pulling the bow of the ship off the bottom. While winds were officially measured as 67 mph at the airport, which means the wind was over 70 mph at the ship and possibly hurricane strength of 74 mph. By late morning, the wind and gusts were down to 20 and 30 mph, making the pulling of the ship more feasible.
By one pm, it appears the ship is again moored to the wharf.
A bit of information and commentary on this ship and pier.
We have wondered for years why this empty ocean freighter stayed tied to this pier. I learned recently that the company uses it as a cheater to slip through a loophole in U.S. shipping laws - known as the Jones Act. As this ship was built in the United States, it counts toward their fleet which has foreigh built ships. U.S. laws are slanted toward firms that own U. S. built ships. So this old rust bucket with no service life left in her has been rotting at our Port of Bellingham pier for over 5 years now - and counting. But the shipping company can claim her as a member if its fleet of ships.
Because the waterway has not been dredged in decades, the ship rests on the bottom of the shallow shipping channel during low tides. I won a nice bet with a port commissioner on that little factoid. They don't like to admit to such idiocy at the port. Also, the wharf itself is a rotting mess, with patchwork repairs over the decades. In 1992 I was amazingly appointed to the “2015” committee of the port, which was tasked with studying and recommending what capital improvements were needed. After a few meetings we became aware of how decrepit this wharf was and the port proceeded to disband the committee before any further embarrassing facts were revealed.
One of the problems we learned was that if the channel were to be dredged to its proper and original depth, then the pier would fall over into the channel. Back 10 years ago, when an occasional ship did dock here to pick up cargo, it had to be towed away from the dock to deeper water when the tide was low. This became very expensive for shipping companies - moving a ship in and out once or twice a day. So - the port took the quiet easy way out. They stopped using the pier for ships. And this hulk showed up to occupy the now useless for shipping pier.
What looks like a fine ocean going freighter at a fine cargo dock - is actually a totally useless ship at a useless pier. But, as can be seen from the screen shot of the Port of Bellingham website today, the port continues to use photos of the ship and dock to imply that Bellingham has an active shipping terminal.