A fishing vessel bound for Alaska in 1972, that disappeared at sea long before it should have arrived in our state, was found by a Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel in December of last year. At the time of its discovery, the vessel was considered an unknown submerged object.
The vessel, after 41 years, was discovered laying under 8,900 feet of water by the research vessel Falkor, 200 miles off of the Alabama coast. The vessel was built in Mobile, Alabama at the Bender shipyard and completed that same year.
Aboard the vessel when it disappeared was Oskar Joos, his wife, and eight-year-old son as well as a deckhand named Clint Hollevoet. They left Mobile on February 18th and were never seen again. It was never known what had happened to the vessel and it was presumed sunk, no remains were ever found of the family and crew. They were bringing the vessel north to Alaska by way of the Panama Canal when they and it disappeared.
After discovery, the United States Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise initiated a cold case investigation.
Although images were taken of the vessel, unseen were any clues as to why the vessel sank, taking her crew with her.
The vessel was named after Katmai, one of the five vents of the Novarupta volcano that spectacularly erupted, spewing ash over the south central part of Alaska in 1912 in the largest volcanic eruption in Alaska’s recorded history.
The vessel shared its name with another vessel also named the Katmai, that ill-fated vessel also sank to the bottom of the ocean. It met its fate in October of 2008 as it was returning to Dutch Harbor with a load of cod after completing a trip fishing cod with pots. Water rushing into an open aft hatch, drenching the steering mechanism in rough seas is blamed for that sinking off of the Aeutian Chain where seven crewmembers perished.