Another date set for the sinking of Kittiwake

| 16/11/2010

(CNS): After endless delays and more than seven years in the planning the much anticipated sinking of the ex-USS Kittiwake, a de-commissioned naval vessel, in Grand Cayman’s waters has now been reset for Sunday, 5 December. The wreck will create an artificial reef and a new dive attraction for visitors to Grand Cayman. The 251-foot, 2,200 ton, five-deck military vessel, which served the United States Maritime Administration (US MARAD) for over 50 years after it was commissioned in 1945, is currently being towed to the Cayman Islands from the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia, USA. The Kittiwake will be sunk on the north end of Seven Mile Beach.

The boat was scheduled to be sunk in July of this year however, towing problems which emerged just two weeks before the event was set to take place forced organizers to cancel. The vessel is now expected to arrive in Grand Cayman around 29 November and if all goes to plan the joint project between the Ministry and Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) will final come to fruition. The acquisition of the decommissioned naval vessel marks the first time that a US MARAD ship has been donated to a foreign Government for the creation of an artificial reef to preserve the marine environment.

Premier McKeeva Bushsaid the sinking represents the single most significant occurrence in a decade for Cayman’s dive industry and stakeholders were naturally very excited. “Since the last year, the Ministry and Department of Tourism, CITA and Kittiwake Project Manager, Nancy Easterbrook, have been working hand in hand through many processes to ensure the cleaning and safe movement of the vessel to the Cayman Islands, in preparation for its sinking and I am pleased to see that we are almost at the finish line,” the premier said recently. “This public-private sector partnership is a good example of the kind of meaningful collaboration that results in necessary and exciting enhancements to our tourism product, such as the Kittiwake will bring.”

CITA’s Nancy Easterbrook said the financial support of the Ministry of Tourism had always been important to the project. “The Ministry of Tourism realized the importance of this initiative when it was first proposed in 2002 and assisted us in kick-starting its development. CITA came on board and matched those funds and both parties have been working tirelessly to get to this point where, in a few weeks, the Kittiwake will become Grand Cayman’s newest dive attraction,” she added.

Despite a delay in the original plans for the sinking of the Kittiwake the sinking now comes at the start of the 2010/2011 winter tourist season. “This newest attraction symbolises our commitment, as a destination, to continually enhance our tourism product and to keep the Cayman Islands at the forefront of the dive industry in our region,” Acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott stated.

The Kittiwake will provide underwater enthusiasts of all skill levels with a new year-round diving destination that is both easy to access and a thrill to explore. The Kittiwake will join the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, a Russian Frigate sunk off the coast of Cayman Brac in 1996, as central dive sites in the artificial reef movement in the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean.

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  1. Fiddler on the Roof says:

    We should sink it in the waters off High Rock.

  2. MER says:

    How much did we pay for this boat we plan to just ‘sink’?

  3. Jason B says:

    Excellent for the dive industry if this goes ahead. Lets just hope that the company responsible for the sinking has the knowlage and experience to do this complicated task and not some "cowboy" who reads how to do it on the internet and is then suddenly certified.

  4. John Evans says:

    Whilst I appreciate the hard work put in to achieve this, particularly by the local dive industry, it’s hard to see it keeping, "the Cayman Islands at the forefront of the dive industry in our region."

    That statement was clearly made by someone unfamiliar with Cayman’s dive industry as it was roughly 20 years ago, when there were so many visiting divers that boats had to queue for moorings on the North Wall and you regularly found three or four boats night diving the Oro Verde. The current downsized dive industry does an excellent job but it is still struggling to keep the numbers up and I don’t really see how adding what is basically just one more dive site will turn things around.
    True, it does represent an additional attraction for visiting cruise shippers but that isn’t exactly going to draw the land-based visitors over to dive it.
    This attraction has to be put in the context of the local competition. There are plenty of other wrecks and artificial reefs in the area, particularly Southern Florida, that are cheaper and easier to access. In Cuba you can even dive sunken trucks, tanks and APCs as well as traditional wrecks.
    It also doesn’t do anything towards solving the key issue relating to regenerating diving in the Caymans, which is the lack of reasonably priced accommodation for visiting divers.
    • Anonymous says:

      In addition to the points you have made John, I also have very grave concerns for the effect this will have on the marine environment.  No matter what way I look at it, it doesn’t look good.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to both McKeeva and The Chuckster. McKeeva started it, The Chuckster continued it and now McKeeva is finishing it.

    Congrats to CITA too for their involvment and support.

  6. Mark How says:

    We’ll see……… heard this before, some other names for the wreck include, Kittifake, Nowake, etc…..

  7. A Concerned Young Caymanian Father says:

    This will be good.

  8. Pending says:

    Calling all Lionfish and Algae in the surrounding waters!!!!!!