Congratulations to the 143-foot, former US Coast Guard tug Comanche, which is settling into a new berth on the waterfront in Bremerton, Wash. The boat is owned by the Tacoma-based Comanche 202 Foundation, a non-profit supported primarily by veterans of her service as a Coast Guard vessel. Launched in 1944 as a U.S. Navy tug with a mission of pulling damaged warships out of the line of fire, she won a Battle Star for action in Okinawa during World War II. Transferred to the Coast Guard after the war, the government retired the vessel in 1980. It worked as a private tug in Puget Sound before it was acquired by the foundation in 2007.
Comanche was a fixture on the Tacoma waterfront until earlier this year, when a dispute over insurance and the lack of a rental agreement with Foss Waterway Seaport, the waterfront museum which controlled the tug’s moorage, forced the ship to find a new home. Soon after the hull work was completed in late August, the Port of Bremerton’s downtown marina welcomed Comanche with open arms, putting it near another historic ship, the destroyer USS Turner Joy, a veteran of the Vietnam War and now a museum ship.
Staffed entirely by volunteers, Comanche is one of the few large historic ships that can visit nearly any port on Puget Sound. It shows up at local maritime festivals, such as Olympia Harbor Days on Labor Day weekend. It also hosts programs for at-risk youth. Back at Bremerton, Comanche opens to the public for tours on Saturdays and Sundays. “It’s all free,” says Joe Peterson, the foundation’s director of operations, “but donations are not refused.”