Wreck of the Alaska Reefer
F/V Alaska Reefer is an easy wreck dive, located just
south of Walan Point (Indian Island) on the East side of
Port Townsend Bay. The ship was working as a “freezer”
or refrigeration ship for the Alaska Salmon fishery in 1961
when it caught fire. The USCG Minnetonka towed
the fire damaged vessel to Port Townsend on August 28th
1961. The fire was thought to be extinguished, but
flared up again and on August
29th, the Alaska Reefer was grounded and sank in her present
The 175’ long, wood hulled ship started her life as a net
tender named the USS Pinon (AN 66). She was built by
the American Car and Foundry, Co. in 1944 and
served during WWII tending submarine nets in England.
She was sold to the “Alaska Refer Fisheries” company in 1946
and refitted as a refrigeration ship.
Today, she rests on her port side in shallow water near the
munitions dock on Indian Island. The stern rests in
50’ of water and the bow is in about 15’ of
water. Additionally, a large salvage barge lies at an
angle to the keel of the Reefer, nearly touching the hull
just below the stern tube and rudder post. There is
also an old tug located below the reefer, which sank in
The wooden hull of the refer is slowly rotting away, leaving the ribs of
the ship exposed. Several of the holds are open,
sunlit swim throughs to enjoy and explore.
Lots of the old refrigeration machinery and piping is still
visible and bits of the
diesel-electric power plant can still be seen in the engine
The large salvage barge next to the reefer has been reduced to large timbered
ribs and anemones. Swimming along the keel of the
Reefer towards the stern, you will gradually notice the
skeletal remains of the barge closing in on you as the
sunlight dances eerily through the dark forest of the
When visiting the Alaska Reefer by boat, be careful not to allow your
boat to swing over the forward part of the wreck, as the
hull is just below the surface of the water and could easily damage the
prop on your dive boat. The location of this wreck is
NOAA chart # 18464. Look for the
wreck icon just 300 yards south east of Walan point on Indian
Island (east side of Port Townsend Bay). Note the
working munitions dock is a restricted navigation
area, so give Walan point a wide berth and approach the
wreck from the southwest so as not to draw the ire of the
Naval Patrol boat on station at the docks.
History of the USS Pinon:
Pinon (AN–66), a net tender, was laid down 9 March 1943 by
the American Car and Foundry Co., of Wilmington, Del. as YN–87.
launched on 16 January 1944; designated Pinon on 20 January
1944 and commissioned 31 March 1944.
Single propeller, 2500 HP diesel-electric.
After Atlantic coast shakedown and training, Pinon arrived
Northern Ireland, on 10 July, 1944.
net-tending service in both Belfast and Plymouth, England
through the fall. The Pinon sailed to Hampton Roads, Va. 31 January and then
cruised via Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal, to San Diego.
She called in at Pearl
Harbor and then tended nets at Eniwetok starting 22
April 1945, at Guam (27 April through 20 June), at Tinian/Saipan
through the first week of July, and at Okinawa until 15
The USS Pinon was
decommissioned at San Diego 5 March 1946, and was struck
from the Navy List 20 March 1946. Sold and placed in
merchant service as the Alaska Reefer, she was sunk on 29
Location: South of the
Ammunition Dock on Indian Island
Hazards: Not much.