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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

ALASKA PENINISULA: BECHAROF: Research Vessel Arlluk Sinks in Kodiak Harbor

Region 7, July 19, 2013
View of seabird colony from R/V Arlluk.
View of seabird colony from R/V Arlluk. - Photo Credit: n/a

At 11 p.m. on February 7, 2013 the R/V Arlluk was tied up in her berth in Kodiak’s St. Herman’s Harbor. By 3 a.m., she was underwater, lying on her side.

 

No one was on board at the time. The cause of the sinking is unknown. Captain Orville Lind had guided her through a busy and successful season in 2012, supporting many cooperative and Refuge projects. The vessel was scheduled for improvements during the winter, readying her for the upcoming 2013 season. Preparations were under way to move her to Homer within the month.

Supervisory Wildlife Biologist Ron Britton flew to Kodiak to assist with salvage and the investigation. The engines and generators were determined to be salvageable; but the overall cost of rehabilitating the vessel is far too high for the Refuge.

Built in 1979 and originally named the Caroline, the boat was seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the late 1990s. The DEA used it for undercover operations.

In 2009, the Refuge took ownership, renaming it Arlluk, which means “killer whale” in Alutiiq. After refurbishing the motors and other parts, the boat was estimated to be worth $2.5 million. The vessel went to public auction April 19 and sold May 1 for $43,175.

Refuge staff expressed relief that no one was injured. The vessel remained tied to the dock and did not sink to the bottom of the harbor, which made pulling it out of the water and into dry dock much less complicated.

A full season of projects had already been scheduled for 2013. The loss of the R/V Arlluk is a tremendous blow to the Refuge. It is extremely unlikely the Refuge can afford to replace the boat.

Contact Info: Julia Pinnix, 907-246-1211, Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov