OLYMPIA – A World War II vintage ocean-going tug anchored in Budd Inlet in Olympia since January 2007 has moved back to Tacoma.
The 143-foot-long Comanche, which is owned by a nonprofit group, was ordered by the state Department of Natural Resources to move from its Butler Cove anchorage by June 5.
The state agency allows vessels 30 days anchorage at any one site in Puget Sound and 90 days per year overall, DNR state aquatic lands manager Shannon Soto said.
“They’ve exceeded both limits for 2009,” Soto said, adding that the site in Butler Cove is not an authorized anchorage site.
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Joe Peterson, a founding member of the Comanche 202 Foundation, said the ship motored to the Foss Waterway Seaport Working Waterfront Maritime Museum and Boat Shop on Friday, but that is only a temporary moorage.
“We’re still looking for more permanent accommodations,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
The steel-hulled ship is the last of a class of 89 large, seagoing auxiliary tugs built for the Navy in 1944 to assist warships in theaters of action in World War II. The Comanche served in the invasion of Okinawa and earned a battle star for towing damaged ships from the line of fire.
The vessel was acquired by the Coast Guard after the war and later worked as a commercial ocean tug based in Tacoma.
The ship was donated in 2007 to the Comanche Foundation, whose volunteers have logged more than 4,500 hours refurbishing the vessel while they look for a permanent home. During its stay in Budd Inlet, it was moored at a Port of Olympia marine terminal, then anchored near Gull Harbor, and for the past eight months, in Butler Cove.
While the ship has its fair share of supporters, it has detractors, too. Several Butler Cove residents complained to DNR about the vessel as an eyesore and a potential safety hazard anchored so close to the Budd Inlet shipping channel.
“My concern was that it was certainly a navigational hazard and an environmental hazard,” Butler Cove resident Margaret McPhee said.