Cause Of FV Katmai Sinking Likely To Remain A Mystery

A brand new fishing vessel headed for Alaska to join the Kodiak fleet in 1972 never reached its destination, and its fate has been a mystery for over 40 years. That is, until it was discovered sitting on the sea floor under 9,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The fishing vessel Katmai was found by a Schmidt Ocean Institute oil and gas survey ship in December. Having no record of a shipwreck in the spot, 200-miles from Mobile, Alabama, a remotely operated submersible was sent down to investigate a strong sonar return.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which occasionally runs across shipwrecks, alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Lieutenant Commander Theresa Hatfield in New Orleans.

The owner was Oskar Joos. The Coast Guard did not have the name of his wife or daughter. The deckhand was Clinton Hollevoet. KMXT has contacted several people who knew the Joos’ family, but have not heard back from them as of this morning.

Hatfield said she checked historic weather records from the time to see if it offers any clues to the Katmai’s sinking, but there were no reports of foul weather at the time.
In the photographs, the Katmai can be seen sitting upright on the bottom and it’s not possible to determine if there was any damage to the hull.

Hatfield doubts any further effort will be made to determine the condition of the Katmai or to salvage it.

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Jay Barrett is the news director at KMXT in Kodiak.