Until very recently, the Kodiak Queen was just another abandoned ship rusting away in a harbour in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. But this wasn’t just any ship – it was a decorated World War II ship, just one of a handful of boats that survived the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.
It seemed tragic that such a piece of history was being allowed to just waste away. Owen Buggy, who is a ship engineer and photographer, came to me with an idea to rescue the ship and asked if there was anything we could do.
In 2016, Unite BVI were invited to pitch a project to Maverick1000 – an entrepreneurial group who meet every year on Necker. They came up with some great ideas and worked together to revive her majesty and turn her into an underwater art installation, a recreational dive site and a marine life habitat.
In 2017, filmmaker Rob Sorrenti documented the transformation of the Kodiak Queen and made an exceptional film, narrated by Kate Winslet, which recently won the Green Planet Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. The documentary tells a fascinating story of how the ship was saved, sunk and an artificial reef created.
You can watch the trailer below, and see the full film free for the next seven days over on his website.
We’re also really excited to be showing it on Virgin Media until the end of the year, while the documentary continues its worldwide festival tour.
The story behind the ship is truly remarkable. The Kodiak Queen started off life as a military oil tanker named YO44. During the Pearl Harbour attack, it was filled with aviation fuel – a bomb waiting to go off. Somehow, she survived and was sent to work as a crabbing trawler in Alaska. It was here, working around the Kodiak Island, that she got her name as the Kodiak Queen. She later went to work in the British Virgin Islands, but after Hurricane Earl hit in 2010, she was left abandoned until we found her.
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cover image from Owen Buggy/Rob Sorrenti