First Alaskan Passenger Ship ‘Blue Canoe’ Sinks In Windstorm

The iconic Chilkat, Alaska’s state ferry which had long retired from passenger service is now lost forever. Popularly remembered as the first “Blue Canoe” sank in a Windstorm that engulfed the Anacortes of Washington.

The out of service ship didn’t have any fuel or pollutants onboard so there was no danger of environmental consequences. Everyone just feels that an inevitable part of history is lost and are planning to raise the vessel

It was built in 1957 .M. Martinac Shipbuilding Company in Tacoma for $300,000.

First Alaskan Passenger Ship 'Blue Canoe' Sinks In Windstorm
Image Credits; Alaska Marine Highway System

Final Moments Caught on Video

The final moments of the passenger ship were caught on video raging with sights and sounds that showed the battered vessel in high winds

  • The wind broke off the ship from its moorings and it rolled on the starboard side.
  • Then the keel went up into the sky in less than a minute.

A Petty Officer and US Coast Guard spokesman Steve Strohmaier revealed that ” a pretty big storm system blew through the Seattle area, causing winds and gusts up to 50 knots. And from the storm, one of the concrete piers in Anacortes, Washington sunk”.

Along with the 99-foot ferry 3 other boats also broke off in the storm but the others didn’t sink like Chilkat.

Salvage Operation on the Way

“We have a commercial salvage company that will be coming out and assisting with recovery efforts of the vessel,” he added. “When and how long that will take is unknown at the time.”

Story of First Alaskan Passenger Ship

First Alaskan Passenger Ship 'Blue Canoe' Sinks In Windstorm
Image Credits; Alaska Marine Highway System
  • The Chilkat is out of service at present with the most recent use being a scallop tender by a seafood company who acquired it in 1988 after it went out of service.
  • It entered service as Alaska’s first passenger ferry in 1957.
  • A surplus military landing craft which ran between Haines and Juneau was in service before the Chilkat took over, revealed, Southeast Conference Executive Director Robert Venables.
  • The ship carried 59 passengers and 15 vehicles through the Lynn Canal as it ferried between Skagway, Haines and Juneau.
  • Afterwards, the ship ferried between Ketchikan and Annette Island.
  • The blue and gold painted Chilkat was Alaska Marine Highway System’s original “blue canoe” series which made a key piece of the maritime history of the region.

“The Chilkat was the actual very first ferry as part of the marine highway system fleet that began in 1963 after the statewide vote to bond for the new boats and begin the state-sponsored service,” Venables said. “The Chilkat was the Queen of the Fleet.”

Venables said he felt sad watching the vessel go down like that in the video.

Reference: ktoo.org

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