A 600-foot-long auto transport ship has become something of a Commencement Bay icon as it awaits Coast Guard-mandated repairs before leaving its anchorage just off Tacoma’s Point Ruston development.
The blue-hulled City of Tokyo left its cargo of automobiles at the Port of Tacoma March 28 before proceeding to its anchorage just south of the Tacoma Yacht Club near Point Defiance Park. The 28-year-old auto carrier has become the temporary centerpiece of the water view from the high-end condominiums and apartments that occupy the shoreline at Point Ruston.
Point Ruston is a $1.2 billion mixed-use development being built on the site of the former Asarco copper smelter. The development already is the site of a high-rise apartment building and a cluster of waterfront condominiums and hilltop homes. Construction is underway on a multiplex theater and more residential housing beside the existing buildings. Ultimately, the development will be the site of a Silver Cloud hotel, a supermarket, many retail shops, restaurants and additional residences.
The ship, owned and managed by a German company, has been the subject of other news in recent months. That 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, said the government, 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.
Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Dana Warr said the Coast Guard has held the ship in port pending the completion of several repairs and because of an ongoing investigation.
“I can’t offer any more details about that investigation,” he said, “because it is still ongoing.”