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AFSC Historical Corner:  Sablefish,  Kasitsna Bay Research Vessel

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Sablefish
The research vessel Sablefish.  Auke Bay Laboratories photo.
 

Vessel Details
Year built: 1949
Location built: Seattle, WA
Builder: Grandy Boat Co.
Designer: Edwin Monk - Lorne Garden
Other names/id: #943858  (USCG ID)
Length: 38'
Breadth: 12'
Draft: 4.5'
Tonnage (tons): 38 gross
Original engine: 175 hp Lathrop Mystic gas
Average speed: 8 knots
Cruising range: 600 nmi
Known skippers: Eugene Stubb (early 1950s)
Dean Frame
Robert Budke
Jack McBride (Kasitsna Bay)
Known service: 1951-55  (FWS)
1956-69  (USFWS)
1970-71  (NMFS)
Disposition: sold in 1971

The 38-foot fish boat Sablefish was designed by Edwin Monk and built in Seattle, Washington, by the Grandy Boat Company in 1949. She was constructed for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) having a fir keel, hardwood stem, frames of white oak, with sleeping accommodations for six.

Sparce accounts confirm her FWS service beginning around 1950. In 1951, the boat was used in a salmon escapement project. During the upcoming winter, she was wintered at Ketchikan, Alaska, then in the following winter at Seattle. Starting on the 24 June opening of the 1955 fishing season, the Sablefish and FWS research vessel Heron were used to commence the annual pink salmon fingerling census, in which they visited all commercial fish traps in the eastern and western Icy Strait districts. In July and August of 1956, pink salmon samples were collected aboard the Sablefish from Herman Creek, located northeast of Ketchikan.

A potential disaster occurred in January 1960 when a fire broke out aboard the Sablefish as a result of an over-heated smoke stack. Fortunately, the flames were extinguished before any significant damage was done.

The vessel had a complete engine overhaul in 1963 and was converted for shellfish work, enabling her to handle crab pots and shrimp trawls. In May 1964, she was sent to the Agency's Kasitsna Bay field station in Alaska to take over the activities of the M/V Chinook, which had been declared unsafe and suspended from duties pending the necessary overhauling and repairs.


The Sablefish remained at Kasitsna until she was sold in 1971, at which time she was powered with a 165-bhp GM engine. Subsequent owners include the U.S. Air Force, who used her for R & R at Seward, Alaska, and the University of Alaska School of Ocean and Fisheries Science, who used her as a research boat out of Juneau, Alaska. In a 2011 interview, a retired fisheries director recalled that the vessel was later used to fish Dungeness crab for several years at Tenakee Springs, Alaska – and that "finally it got just too old and decrepit, and they put it up on the beach and burned it. So that was the end of the Sablefish."


Sablefish
The Sablefish at Kasitsna Bay in July 1965.  Auke Bay Laboratories photo.
 

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