Katmai lost steering, then lazarette and engine room flooded

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — The Marine Board of Investigation convened today to hear testimony to determine the reason of the sinking of the fishing vessel Katmai that claimed the lives of seven fishermen October 22.

Monday’s testimony started with vessel captain Henry Blake, followed by crewmember Adam Foster, ending the day with the Katmai Fishing, Inc., operations manager Martin Morin. Cmdr. Malcolm McLellan led the questioning.

Blake testified he has been a fishing vessel captain since 1989 and served on the Katmai before in 2003. For this trip, Blake reported to the vessel as captain in June. The captain’s testimony included events that happened up to 24 hours prior to the sinking of the vessel up until he, Foster, and two other survivors were rescued by the Coast Guard October 22.

Foster, who was the greenhorn on the boat, talked about the day-to-day routine operations on the fishing boat as well as the events leading up the sinking and finally his rescue.

Morin, who has been in the commercial fishing industry for more than 30 years, testified about the history of the vessel, past inspections, recent fishing excursions and recent repairs made to the vessel during he Katmai’s last shipyard period in October and November 2007.

Blake told the board he lost steering and sent Foster to inform the chief engineer, Robert Davis, of the casualty. When Davis and Foster went to inspect the steering, they noticed flooding in the lazarette, and later flooding in the engine room. Foster elaborated on the “battle” he and his shipmates went through to survive the night into the next day, when four of them were rescued by a Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

The Marine Board of Investigation will reconvene Tuesday, October 28 at 9:30 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Anchorage. The proceedings will be opened to the media and to the public. There will be one video, one photographer and one audio person at a time. All other reports will be allowed to attend and take notes.

By Professional Mariner Staff