The Horizon Fairbanks, which became a central figure on Bellingham’s waterfront as it sat idle for the better part of a decade, left town for good in the pre-dawn hours Monday.
The ship was towed out of Bellingham just before 4 a.m. April 25, marking the end of its stay at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal, which started in 2007.
The Port of Bellingham had anticipated its departure some time this month — word had it the vessel might leave over the weekend — as Horizon Lines owner Matson had given the port a 30-day notice on April 11 canceling its agreement to lease the space.
The notice gave the company through about May 10 to move the vessel, said Mike Hogan, port spokesman. Matson paid about $1,000 a day under the agreement.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Matson sold the Fairbanks to All Star Metals, a ship recycling company based in Brownsville, Texas, to be scrapped, said Dave Warter, marine terminals manager for the Port of Bellingham.
“(Matson) had already started to take out some of the parts for their other vessels because they knew this one wouldn’t be put back into service,” Warter said.
Matson hadn’t officially told the port one way or the other if the ship would be scrapped, but with the sale to All Star Metals, a subsidiary of Scrap Metal Services, the ship is due to be recycled in the south.
When active, the C6 Class container ship, built in Mississippi in 1973, hauled containers to Alaska. Before 2007, it stayed in Bellingham on a seasonal basis.
The ship is listed at roughly 21,000 tons. Because of its low fuel economy, Horizon Lines had kept it idle.
In December 2014, the ship captured community attention when 67-mph gusts snapped bowlines and a cleat from the terminal, allowing the 669-foot ship to swing around from its usual mooring place.
The bow caught on sediment in a shallow part of the Whatcom Waterway channel, preventing it from swinging farther, and two tugboats moved the steel ship back in place within a few hours.
As for the newly vacated space at the shipping terminal, the port is “always talking to folks about additional dock space or cargo, but there is nothing set up at this point,” Warter said.
This story was updated at 1:14 p.m. April 26, 2016.