Jennifer Cooper photo — The USNS Bob Hope, a 951-foot Military Sealift Command vessel, appeared to have run aground near Cultus Bay on Saturday.

951-foot Bob Hope wasn’t in distress, military sea command reports

A 951-foot Military Sealift Command vessel that appeared to have run aground near Cultus Bay on Saturday was actually practicing maneuvers, the agency reported.

Rick Appling, a deputy operations officer for Military Sealift Command Pacific out of San Diego, confirmed the USNS Bob Hope wasn’t aground as some Cultus Bay residents worried, but was practicing its anchoring techniques. He said the vessel remained in about 100 feet of water and was never in any danger.

“For someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, it would appear that the odd maneuvering (back and forth movement of the boat)… that the ship was in some level of distress,” Appling said.

Anchors are like fish hooks and need to be “set” to take hold. Doing so requires the ship to put its engines in reverse, which forces the anchor into the seafloor.

Appling said the maneuvers were part of standard testing that precedes a vessel’s “activation” of service. The Bob Hope will soon take on U.S. Army cargo in Tacoma and depart for San Diego. It’s draft is 25 feet empty and 33 feet fully loaded.

He said an autonomous and licensed navigational pilot from “the local port authority” was aboard during the anchor testing and helped the vessel’s master select the location for the tests.

Military Sealift Command is the transportation provider for the Department of Defense, operating about 120 ships daily around the globe, according to the organization’s website.