Coast Guard releases investigation report of fishing vessel Katmai sinking

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard released Tuesday the final report of the investigation into the Oct. 22, 2008, sinking of the fishing vessel Katmai, which sank in Amchitka Pass, Alaska.

Of the 11 crew aboard the Katmai, four were rescued, five deceased crewmembers were recovered and two remain missing.

This Marine Board of Investigation was directed by the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The investigation and public hearings were conducted in Anchorage, Alaska and Seattle by investigators from the Coast Guard with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators interviewed 24 witnesses including the four survivors, the vessel owners, the crew and captains of the fish-processing vessels Patricia Lee and Courageous, previous Katmai crewmembers, naval architects and Coast Guard fishing vessel examiners to gather facts about the Katmai’s overall condition, operations and the events that led to the sinking.

Several primary causal factors that led to this casualty identified in the report include imprudent voyage planning; failure to maintain watertight boundaries; excessive loading of cargo in the vessel’s fish hold; and exposure to heavy winds and high seas. The cause of flooding in the engine room remains unknown.

Recommendations in the report, aimed at preventing recurrence, include several regulatory and legislative changes focusing on inspection and stability requirements, licensing of fishing vessel masters and revising Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 28, which contains the specific requirements for commercial fishing industry vessels.

The Marine Board of Investigation members will meet with the Katmai crewmembers’ next of kin or their legal representatives Friday, 9 a.m., at the Jackson Federal Building, Room 414, 915 2nd Ave., Seattle. This meeting is not open to the public or media.

The Coast Guard will hold a press briefing on the release of the final report on the sinking of the Katmai Friday, 1 p.m., at the Jackson Federal Building.

The Report of Investigation can be downloaded from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations and Analysis websites at either http://marineinvestigations.us or http://homeport.uscg.mil in the Marine Casualty Reports section of either website.

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