Oct 28, 2008

The Katmai

Tonight at dinner, a couple was sitting at the table next to me were getting caught up on each other's day. The woman had done some sight-seeing and shopping in Anchorage; her husband (or partner) had been participating in U.S. Coast Guard hearings at the Anchorage Hilton on the October 22, 2008 sinking of the 93-foot Katmai off the coast of Alaska last week.

ADN covered the first day of the hearings here. It is quite a story, and because it happened while I was in Anchorage, it was a Big News event, but tonight it got even more intense for me.

According to the guy at the next table, the testimony from the hearing was pretty straightforward but sobering; the weather was horrible - 80 knot winds and high waves. It sounds like Katmai developed a starboard list and could not correct it. Normally, taking on a little water is not a problem, but for whatever reason, they could not keep up with it. Katmai developed an increasing starboard list, and at one point they turned to port, hit a wave trough and augered-in, rolling the boat. Apparently the source of the leak could not be determined - the boat should have been battened down because it was full and heading to Dutch Harbor to unload, so hatches should have been closed and it should have been tight.

The hearings into this accident will likely go on for a few more days, and I suspect at some point some additional recommendations will be made on operating fishing boats off the coast of Alaska, but tonight it became more than a story on the second page of the newspaper for me.

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