The sinking of the Kodiak Queen
The Kodiak Queen, a former Navy fuel barge, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. In March 2017, it became an underwater art installation and new dive site in the British Virgin Islands. It was sunk just offshore of Long Bay on Virgin Gorda.
“The Kodiak Queen launched in 1940 as U.S. Navy fuel barge YO-44, and is one of only five ships that survived the Pearl Harbor attack. As the Kodiak Queen, the ship began a new life as a fishing boat. Historian Mike Cochran found the ship rusting in a Road Town junkyard in 2012. He set up a website in an effort to rescue the ship, and got some famous attention. Owen Buggy, a friend of and photographer for Sir Richard Branson, saw the site and suggested the ship as an artificial reef. The project soon began.”
Unfortunately Hurricane Irma did some significant damage to the Kraken, however the mesh structure still serves to provide a platform for corals and sponges to grow on and for marine life to hide in. Thankfully the wreck itself was not damaged and still provides an interesting site for divers to explore.
The beautiful Kodiak Queen sits in a maximum depth of 57ft off the shore of Virgin Gorda and has been a main attraction for scuba divers and snorkelers from all over.
“In 1967 her registry was still US documented. She was converted to an Alaska king crab vessel and salmon tender and worked out of Kodiak Alaska. There are those of us who remember the Kodiak Queen in her glory days of crab fishing in Alaska. My brother, Dave Tippett, sailed on her as chief Engineer in the early 70s when Jack Johnson was running her and fishing King Crab out of Kodiak, Alaska. She was truly the Queen of the fleet. She was one of the largest crab vessels at that time. As a converted WWII vessel she was over 30 years old then but she was well maintained and a safe vessel. She fished and tendered in Alaska till the early 2000s when she was taken out of the fishery in what was called the “crab buyback program.” As a condition of the buyback program she could no longer fish anywhere in the world so she was sold into what would appear to have been a not so glorious life for the last 10 years. It is very fitting for her to have an afterlife in the warm waters of the Caribbean and to become a habitat for the fish. Much better than being melted down and becoming a toaster She was truly one of a kind.”