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The Al-Ind-Esk-A-Sea:

The Al-Ind-Esk-A-Sea was built in 1945 by Leathem D. Smith Shipbuilding Co. of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The ship was launched in May 1945 as the cruise ship Coastal Guide. In 1948, the ship was transferred to the Army and renamed the Sgt. George Peterson. In 1950, the ship became the USNS Sgt. George Peterson, a Navy transportation ship. Among other naval assignments, the Peterson spent eight years carrying cargo in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeastern U.S. seaboard. The Peterson was inactivated in 1959 and placed in reserve in Mobile, Alabama. In 1971, the ship was sold to a Florida publisher, who outfitted it as a private yacht, complete with swimming pool. In 1979, the ship was sold to TransAlaska Fisheries Corp., a subsidiary of the 13th Regional Corp, one of 13 Native Alaskan companies set up by Congress to compensate the natives for loss of their land. The new owner converted the ship into a fish processor, capable of processing and carrying up to 5 million pounds of packaged seafood in refrigerated holds. In 1979, the Al-Ind-Esk-A-Sea was one of the most modern fish processing ships operating in Alaska.

In October 1982, the Al-Ind-Esk-A-Sea was at anchor in Port Garner (Everett, WA) about a 1/2 mile off shore. The ship was undergoing repairs and being readied for the December herring season. She had just returned from processing 4.8 million pounds of Alaskan salmon. A fire started on the vessel, apparently caused by a welder's torch. The crew was evacuated and the ship was left to burn. Firefighters stayed away from the blaze fearing that the 18 tons of ammonia used in the ships refrigeration system would explode and escape into the atmosphere. As the fire progressed, some of the ammonia canisters exploded, sending flames 30-40 feet into the air with a huge column of white smoke. The ship burned for over 2 days. Finally, on October 22, 1982, at 10:13 am, the vessel rolled onto her starboard side and quietly went down, stern first. At the time of sinking, the ship was insured for $14 million.

The Al-End-Esk-A-Sea today »

Images of the sinking:

(view an animated GIF of the sinking)


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