A 600-foot-long, blue-hulled auto-carrying ship anchored off Tacoma’s Point Ruston for some two months this week moved to the Port of Tacoma, but the ship is likely to return to its anchorage soon.
The auto carrier City of Tokyo was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service earlier this month as a result of a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma by a Singapore-based fuel company. That company, KPI Bridge Oil Singapore, alleged that the ship’s owners owed some $101,000 for fuel plus legal fees and costs that altogether totaled some $221,000.
The court ordered the ship “arrested” to secure the claim against its owners. The Marshal’s Service hired Marine Lender Services of Seattle to serve as the ship’s custodian while under arrest.
Buck Fowler, Marine Lender Services owner, said the ship was moved Wednesday from its anchorage near Point Defiance Park to the port’s Sitcum Waterway to load aboard provisions and materials for repairing the vessel.
In addition to the civil suit, the U.S. Coast Guard has ordered repairs be made to the vessel before it is allowed to leave the bay. The Coast Guard in Seattle on Thursday declined to disclose the nature of those repairs.
Fowler said the ship’s crew remains on the vessel and is tasked with making those repairs. According to court documents, KPI and the vessel owners are negotiating over payment of the fuel costs.
Fowler said he expects the vessel will return to an anchorage in the bay by Friday to allow the repairs to begin.
The ship unloaded its cargo of autos in late March at the port before moving to its holding spot in the bay.
The City of Tokyo has a checkered history.
The ship’s management company, AML Ship Management, reached a plea agreement in February with the federal government over an incident that occurred in ocean waters off Alaska last August.
The Department of Justice charged that AML and the ship’s chief engineer, Nicolas Sassin, knowingly dumped some 4,500 gallons of oily bilge water directly overboard without its passing through the ship’s pollution control equipment and its oil separator. The discharge left an oily sheen on the water in the ship’s wake. The illegal pump system that was used to discharge the oily waste was dismantled before the ship reached port in Portland, the government charged. The Department of Justice further charged that the company and its engineer didn’t keep accurate records of the discharge.
The ship management company, the government said, has agreed to a plea deal that will require it to pay $800,000 in fines and to fund community service activities. AML has agreed to be placed on probation for three years, according to the Justice Department.
Fowler said he expects the issues surrounding the ship will be solved shortly.
“The ship isn’t earning any money when its anchored in the bay,” he said.