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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Celebrate Independence Day aboard historic tug Comanche

Oh, if only Comanche could talk, I thought to myself. On June 6, 2009 I climbed aboard the old tug where she was docked outside Tacoma's Working Waterfront Museum, for a tour and the opportunity to sense the spirit of this historically important vessel. Her sides show rust and evidence all around that the restoration of this WWII oceangoing tug is "a work in progress." My hands felt the gripping texture of decorative and carefully braided fine rope that covered the handrails on the ship's ladders and also enclosed posts. Sailors from long ago, now old men if they still live, conquered boredom and tried to beautify their shipboard home with this ancient maritime handiwork, now covered with paint.

Comanche started life in Port Arthur, Texas as a Sotoyomo class auxiliary ocean tug, ATA-202, launched in October 1944 and commissioned in December that same year. She served our country well in the Pacific in WWII and saved many lives, towing damaged vessels out of the chaos of battle to safety and repair at U.S. facilities. She was awarded a battle star. Comanche's long life story includes being given different names over the years and service in many different places, under both the Navy and Coast Guard and as a privately owned commercial tug. Now she belongs to the non-profit Comanche 202 Foundation run by President Joe Peterson, M.A. She's old and not so pretty any more, but everyone involved with saving this historic vessel loves her like Joe does. Comanche needs more people to care. If people don't come forward to save this floating museum she'll end up being one more tragic loss of our maritime history, like the schooner Wawona, gone forever. There are still WWII veterans alive who would not be, except for her and the old tug reminds us to never forget those who fought for the nation and freedoms we now enjoy.

Comanche needs our help. She needs funds for repairs, and even for fuel. Most of all she needs a permanent home. "That's our biggest concern right now," Joe told me. The Olympian newspaper story by reporter John Dodge, June 9, 2009, says it all. (click here for link) This morning Joe sent out an email about how people can help the cause and have fun doing so:

EXCITING OPPORTUNITY FOR Comanche crew, supporters and visitors:
We have had a great time in Tacoma at the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum. Comanche has been invited to be
the point boat for the 4th of July Air Show and Fireworks Show. It will be the best seat in the house! We are now signing up volunteer crew and guests. Non-crew guest can come for a $100 or more donation for the Air Show or the Fireworks show. ($100 donation or more for either.) Comanche will be at anchor during the shows until Sunday morning. Crew and guests will be shuttled to and from the Comanche in our vintage historic shore boat the Mimesis (see photo below.) Air show is 1:30 to 3:30. We will head for anchor about 9:30 am but if you are coming and would rather get picked up at the Museum dock at noon we can do that, too. Fire works is at 10:00 pm and we'll start picking people up for that around 8:30 pm. Dress accordingly for whatever the weather might be.

We will have a 4th of July BBQ on the Comanche, bring your own food/meat to BBQ and something for a salad. BYOB drinks. Comanche has steel folding chairs only so you may want to bring a nice comfortable folding lawn chair. There are a limited number of USCG approved life jackets so if you have those bring them along. If not please let me know you need one. Comanche has a working restroom, lights and plenty of deck space to enjoy the shows. And you'll get a special tour of the ship, too! Bring your camera! These will be the choice seats for both shows! We will limit on board crew and visitors to 25.
Comanche will remain at anchor Saturday night but all guests and any crew who need to leave will be brought back to the dock at the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum after the air show and after the fire works. If you want to spend the night aboard at anchor let me know.
Email me for details. Limited number of people can come along so let me know soon! (253) 227-9678.

VOLUNTEERS Work party this Thursday, Friday and Saturday June 18-20 11 am to late afternoon on board Comanche at the south end of the Museum dock (can't see the ship from the road but park on the street north of the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, 705 Dock St., Tacoma and take the bay side walk and you'll see Comanche at the dock.) Come for one all days this weekend for how ever long you can. Mostly cleaning and painting. Bring a lunch and drink.
Work party June 26 & 27th as well. Same place same time same work, same party!. Please r.s.v.p. if you think you can make any of those work days. If you want to spend the night(s) on board you may do so but let me know that is your intention.
And we need to sign up crew for the 4th of July weekend.

Please consider Joe Peterson's offer of a great way to celebrate Independence Day. Nothing could be more patriotic.


Corey Johnson said...

My name is Corey Johnson, and I am a volunteer aboard Comanche. I wanted to let everyone know that we are still docked in front of the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum in Tacoma. We generally host work parties every other weekend the next being Saturday March 19, 2011. We always welcome visitors! For more information you can visit Tug Comanche on Facebook. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm Mickel Scoggin and I Too am a volunteer on Comanche. the Comanche is in the Tyee Marina near browns point in fife and will be eventually moved to Bremerton Marina.