In 1998 Anchorage-based author and shipwreck
historian Steve Lloyd resurrected the story of the lost ALEUTIAN
while researching another Kodiak shipwreck story, the FARALLON
wreck of 1910. Lloyd visited the National Archives in Seattle
and obtained a copy of the transcript for the Marine Board
of Inquiry hearing that had been conducted after the ALEUTIAN
sank in 1929. He learned that the steamer was reported to
have sunk in very deep water—perhaps 300 feet or greater—and
that salvage had never been attempted.
A chart of Uyak Bay shows depths approaching
400 feet near the reported site of the sinking, a depth Lloyd
knew would place the wreck effectively out of reach, even
for experienced deep-wreck technical divers. From testimony
given 70 years earlier by the ALEUTIAN’s captain, pilot
and first mate, Lloyd reconstructed the bearing, course and
speed of the ship in the moments before she impacted the hidden
pinnacle of rock. Using this information, Lloyd organized
a search team that included Joshua Lewis and Victoria Becwar-Lewis,
owners of the Kodiak-based vessel MELMAR.
In August 2002 the team utilized side-scan
sonar and a magnetometer to search the seafloor in a large
V-shaped grid beginning at the rock that had claimed the liner—now
marked with a navigation aid and renamed ALEUTIAN Rock in
honor of its victim. Making calculations for the speed of
the ALEUTIAN, the state of the tide on the morning of her
loss, and a variety of other factors, the searchers located
a very large target on the sea floor more than 200 feet below.
Every member of the search group was filled
with excitement, but the discovery could not be confirmed
until a diver had descended for a visual inspection of the
target. Steve Lloyd donned scuba equipment and followed the
MELMAR’s anchor line down into the icy darkness of Uyak
Bay. There on the bottom, with her masts still standing as
if reaching for the light she would never again see, lay the
proud steamship ALEUTIAN. On August 14, 2002, Lloyd became
the first person to visit the resting liner since that morning
73 years before when she plunged into the depths.
here for a story about the discovery of the ALEUTIAN.