Hope pinned on shipwreck

| 07/06/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news, Kittiwake shipwreck(CNS): The tourism sector is pinning its hopes that a shipwreck could boost the flagging industry’s fortunes. The long awaited sinking of the USS Kittiwake to create an artificial reef is now set to take place next month, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has said. The tourism body stated that although the project has been a long time coming – seven years — given the current slump in the tourism sector the sinking of the ship could not come at a better time. The event is expected to attract much needed international attention, which CITA anticipates will convert into an increase in visitors to the islands.

The project, which promises to enhance the local dive experience, has been some seven years and many challenges in the making. Finally, however, subject to weather and other unforeseeable circumstances, the former US Naval Submarine Rescue Ship will be sunk in Cayman waters on Tuesday, 27 July.
The 2,290-ton 251-foot ship will be sunk off the cost of the West Bay Public Beach, creating the Kittiwake Shipwreck Park. It will cost snorkelers $5 and divers $10 per day to enter, which will be used for maintenance, safety equipment and management of the attraction. A portion of the visitor fee will also be paid to an Environmental Contingency Fund.
The sinking of the Kittiwake should have a positive economic impact as a new tourism attraction, CITA said, noting that it was also important in the preservation of a ship that protected its nation for decades, which fits in well with Cayman’s own long maritime history and motto, “He hath founded it upon the seas”. 
The ship was commissioned in 1945, and underwater it will last for many, many decades, prolonging her life rather than condemning her to a ship’s scrap yard. The new Kittiwake shipwreck will also create another habitat for marine life in the Cayman Islands.
“The Kittiwake shipwreck attraction may assist in diversifying the product offering in order to reduce the environmental impact on Stingray City and other frequented reefs by cruise ship traffic and stay-over guests for dive and snorkeling,” said Nancy Easterbrook, CITA Project Manager and past CITA Board Member. 
The seven-plus year project has had many obstacles with ‘goal lines’ constantly evolving as new laws and regulations relating to artificial reefing came into play. CITA said it has ensured that all precautions have been strictly followed to ensure hazardous materials, paint, lubricants, oils and fuels will be removed prior to sinking to protect Cayman’s  marine life.
The project was spearheaded by CITA and supported and funded by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism, Finance, Investment and Commerce.  The Kittiwake is scheduled to arrive in Cayman on 20 July, which will trigger a week of celebrations to mark the sinking event, including a gala dinner with a live and silent auction for one-of-a-kind artifacts from the ship and memorable experiences, such as the first dive or snorkel on the wreck. Kittiwake ex-crew members and their families will also be visiting the island during the celebrations.
A public viewing of the ship is also scheduled to take place on the Monday before the sinking (26 July) including a special dedication ceremony. The sinking itself is planned for Tuesday between 10am and 1pm, when spectators will be able to view from a distance.
On Wednesday safety inspections and final preparations will take place before the first dive, snorkel and semi-sub trips take place the following day.
For more details visit www.KittiwakeCayman.com
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  1. Kerry Horek says:

    For the record, I am personally against the sinking of any ships in our waters.  This is not good for our environment.

    We should have left it alone with the ship that was sunk off Cayman Brac.  As always when it comes to Cayman Brac we are indian givers.

    I do not support this ship sinking project and cannot see how it’s going to benefit us on the long or short term environmentally.

    Next time lets’ put our future thinking caps on and see the environmental impact this will have for the future generations to clean up.

    Kerry Horek

    "Keep my Island Clean & Green"

  2. Anonymous says:

    Here’s an interesting fact. This project was originally approved by McKeeva 7 years ago as "Shipwreck City". He had given approval for CITA to sink 5 to 6 ships at different locations around Grand Cayman.

    Chucky became Minister and advised CITA that there would be no "Shipwreck City" because it wasn’t a viable project and was cost prohibitive. He instead approved the acquisition of one ship which is this current project.

    I guess McKeeva agreed with Chucky on this one since McKeeva didn’t go back to his "Shipwreck City" project. Now you see miracles can happen 🙂

    Anyway thanks to Chucky for stopping the ridiculous "Shipwreck City" project….although if I were him I would have stopped the whole idea.

    The number of Scuba Divers worldwide is declining.


    • Anonymous says:

      Here is a contributor who clearly can be labeled a rebel without a clue. I know dozens if not hundreds of divers who come to Cayman yearly and stay over spending money in condos, hotels, rental cars and restaurants.

      Whatever planet that person is from don’t be fooled, the dive industry is the backbone of the Cayman tourism product.

      • Anonymous says:

        The reality on Grand Cayman is that alot of the reefs are looking worse for wear, as a result of storms, divers walking all over them, and massive over fishing (when you next go diving on the reefs you will notice that what few fish you do see, are very, very small).

        Shipwreck city is a good idea, and should be put back on the agenda, but one small sunken ship will not do it, we need to be sinking one or two ships a year, given that they will be damaged by storms on an ongoing basis, and just become rubble after a few years. With Cayman’s fantastic visibility, it has a real opportunity to be marketed as a wreck divers paradise (assuming we sink eneaugh ships). This would massively increase dive tourism from the States and elsewhere. The introduduction of a number of new wrecks would also take the pressure off the surrounding reefs, as they will be dived less, and be havens for producing fish life.

        Its unfortunate that people have to be charged to dive the wrecks, however they cost money to buy, and clean out before being sunk, so this money has to come from somewhere.

        Cayman has a real opportunity to become a fantastic wreck divers destination, and boost tourism, but it will take alot more than one lonely ship.

    • Ron Kipp says:

      Your "facts" are just plain wrong.

      It was always going to be one ship at a time. I was part of the process that led Mr. Bush to that decision.

      Minister Clifford very wrongly downgraded the diving market from a core market to a niche market. In its place he introduced (1) Prize Fights, (2) NFL thugs and (3) Songebob Squarepants.

      I am of the opnion that the Kittiwake project will do as much for Cayman tourism as Stingray City. It will not be the BIG ANSWER as their is no such miracle for an industry that has been in decline for over 10 years. But, wait and see the results for yourself.

      I have no problem signing my name because I know what I am talking about. Oh….diving is not a declining business. It is FLAT, just like skiing, surfing and golf. Our overweight young generation would rather sit in front of a video game instead of swimming the laps. And yes, we should still try to get a 18 hole course built in Grand Cayman.

      Ron Kipp


  3. Anonymous says:

    My question is…

    Who prepared the ship and certified it to be safe for the underwater environment?
    Oil, hydraulics, fuel, batteries, all have to be removed.
    It was built in 1945 is there asbestos still in her?
    Sharp objects have to be cut and smoothed as to not injure divers.
    Inner doors have to be welded shut, so divers don’t get lost.
    This all costs millions…..just wondering who paid for it?
    • Anonymous says:

      The answer to your question is,before the ship leaves the States it is a bare shell with no contaminants at all left on board. Just for your information the ship WILL be diver safe, doors taken out not welded shut. How much it all cost!!!! ask the man who bought it!!! 

  4. The Golden Bear says:

    The divers are coming here anyway.  CITA would be better spending their time lobbying to ensure that there will remain decent accessible and affordable golf for the tourist – the threat of there being no decent golf open to the public if North Sound is closed will costs us many stay over tourists.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to burst ya’ll bubble but Scuba Diving is a dying sport. It has been overtaken by so many other "adventurous activities".

    We ought to be more concerned about the sinking ship that is the "HMS Cayman" and its inept and reckless Captain that is "Premier Bush" and his UDP crew who are slowly but surely pounding the nails in their political coffins and by implication Cayman’s too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry to burst your helium bubble, but scuba is not a dying sport.  Every type of sport goes through various phases ofpopularity.  The numbers of new divers certaintly levelled off from their incredible figures a decade ago, but they will rebound.  Scuba diving will always be around, perhaps in an improved form or other ie better technology, unless of course we learn how to breathe underwater ourselves like the fish.

      Humans will continue to explore this last great frontier of Earth.  Why u so negative chile? Just had to say sumptin nah.


  6. Anonymous says:

    How does it enhance the "Cayman" product to sink an American ship in our waters? Really, our newest biggest tourist attraction is a used American warshiip that no Caymanian served on and has no Cayman connection at all. Basically we paid to take away an item of trash and sink it in our waters. 

    Clearly it is too late now, but really what was CITA thinking?

    Also if I shore dive to the wreck how do I pay the fee? Are there going to be police divers waiting to see my permit?

  7. Anonymous says:

    "Dont stop the progress" was a slogan last elections.  Seems like lots of people want to stop the progress!

    Sure, the fee kinda sucks, but I am willing to bet in 4-6 months it will be dropped once the initial hype is over.  Its probably just to recoup some of the costs and cash in on the high traffic there will be right off the bat.

    Glad to see this is happening and hope it will bring in more tourists to this lovely island.

  8. Anonymous says:

     Love the headline …. just add ‘again’

  9. bottoms up says:

    How on earth can this be declared a "private park" if the vessel is resting on the seabed?  Historically, this has been known as the "Queen’s Bottom", and it seems that there is something fishy going on here.

    An important question is does the CITA have a lease agreement with Government for the "private park"?  If so, details please!

    I am absolutely appalled that persons / boats will be considered "trespassing" if they don’t pay to visit the wreck.  Are trespassing notices going to be posted around the dive site stating "DO NOT ENTER"?

    • Confused says:

       They probably taken the view of everyone else that using Crown land (which the queens bottom is) is perfectly acceptable. Look at the number of vendors now on Public Beach and WB Dock and I doubt any have permission to be there. Won’t be long before we are Jamaica where you are getting harassaed on the beach every 5 mins. 

      As someone said earlier, this has FOI request all over it.

    • Pending says:

      The only people who can be charged to go and snorkel / dive this wreck are the poeple who will be using the dive operators as their method of travel to get there. E.g. stingray city / sandbar boat trips

      There is no way they can charge a private vessel or person to swim over the top a wreck which is in the ocean… they have completely lost the plot.


  10. Anonymous says:

    I am all for recycling, including ships, but wasn’t this the alternative headline the day after the last election?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I pinned my hopes a year ago and now that has become a shipwreck


    This is outrageous! What is the fine for being found snorkeling over this wreck without a "license" from the "CITA"? What law has been put in place to actually fine someone for parking their boat and swimming within this area?   You are telling me that the public has to pay a fee to see this shipwreck.  Am I in Kansas?? Toto – what are you doing here…..

    Can I fish there anymore?  Are you fined for just parking and not getting in the water?  If I move my boat very slowly over the wreck and stick my hand in the water with my underwater camera and take a picture of the wreck am I breaking the law?

    This wreck once it sits on the bottom of the Ocean belongs to the Queen and the public has every right to go here with their boat without the threat of fines and penalties.  What a stupid idea to charge people to go there. Do they charge for the wreck in Cayman Brac? No!  

    You should have left it just like the Sandbar and Wildelife Interaction Zone where the operator pays a fee to DOE and the public has every right to visit without having to pay a fee and they have their sticker placed on the boat – now they are going to have 2 stickers – what’s next a fee for bringing your boat up to the beach- okay let’s have a sticker for that too…. How about charging boats to enter the channel in the North Sound – we need another sticker……. Madness just madness!  Who was the absolute Einstein, Genius who came up with this one?  If you need money for an Environmental Contingency Fund then why not actually get the boat operators to pay the fee every year and the maintenance and safety equipment is just a Buoy and line attached to the bottom.

    I don’t think you thought this one out very clearly.  This is the first time in the history of the cayman islands that the public has to pay a fee to access any area in the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands.

    I think Grampa is rolling over in his grave right now.

    What other plans are next………

    Concerned Caymanian water lover!

  13. Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

    It has the potential to be an O.K. attraction.  It takes years for a wreck to become encrusted with coral to sustain marine life.  Until then it’s like diving in a quarry looking at old Volkswagons.  Been through the Russian destroyer at Brac and it was a wasted day.  Ocean Frontiers used to have a shark feeding dive which was really well done and safe and that was entertainment!  They don’t do it anymore but they do it in the Bahamas and it’s very popular.  Really wish they would start it up again- it’s worth traveling to see.

  14. Sir Henry Morgan says:

    How symbolic!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a wonderful tourist attraction. Let’s hope that the crime situation improves or a sunken ship  will not draw people to Cayman if they do not safe on shore.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Then read it again dough head

  16. Anonymous says:

    Nice insertion there, Rectus.

    We are all too quick to jump on the bandwagon without weighing up the pros and cons of each option.

    More of this people, let’s stop being swayed so easily by everything.

  17. Pending says:

    Clearly  the lionfish had been given the memo on the shipwreck sometime ago and arrived a bit early…. now we just heave to herd them all over to the ship…. we can then rename it the "Lions Den"

  18. Anonymous says:

    Negatives!  Do you all just sit by your computers hitting refresh on this page waiting for the next CNS post and then say to yourselves, hmmm "let’s see what I can say about this story negatively?"  Please do everyone a favor and post something, anything, positive just once!  (you might just like the feeling) Not everything has to have negativity about it.  If you find that it is impossible for you to do, then simply give the rest of us that try to keep positive attitudes and outlooks a break and SHUT UP!!

    And the Government, Government Government!!!!  PPM!! PPM!! UDP!! UDP!! constant blaming thing.  You sound like a bunch of spoiled children always having a hissy fit!!!  get off your butts and start looking out for yourself instead of looking for handouts!

    • anonymous says:

      But stop!…how you go on so!…try chill out na man!…who trouble you?…geeez sum…

      Look at the postings for todays announcement of the RCIPS fast track plans…all very positive responses.

      Just because others don’t agree with your opinion does not mean it’s negative, and sometimes the negative must be voiced first, to bring about the positive. Or would you prefer people keep their heads buried in the sand?

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen to that!

  19. San Andreas says:

    Wrecks are used to attract divers when there is no proper diving around.  What Cayman does not need is to offer more to divers.  It is the rest of our tourist product that is awful and needs help.  For example, soon we will be an island that can’t offer a single 18 hole golf course for the public to access (and the only accessible 9 hole course is in a terrible state).

    • Here is a thought says:

       Yes, and how about my idea of doing a DOT slogan that would actually attract new visitors…"Now added, and EXTRA hour of SUNSHINE!"  (like the one Michigan is using stating that due to the long summer sunsets, you can golf ALL DAY..sunset is at 9:30PM) as seen on CNN.

      The gist of the idea is that if Cayman started using Daylight Savings Time you and I would not have seen that sunrise today at 5:47AM and sadly barely have time to get home for the 7:00PM sunset.  More time for family outdoor after dinner activity?  Gee, we keep hearing that our kids needs more outdoor time, let’s give them some sunlight to do it in.  

      Our economy would benefit from better Finance working hours with our global partners.  Ask anyone who is trying to work with London or New York if they have enough communication hours to their office in the day.

      Tourism: 2 seatings at restaurants instead of one dinner seating…offer early bird specials!  2 trips to Stingray City a day if the sun went down at 8:00PM, more taxi rides for drivers and NOT during the same time as the locals are sitting in rush hour traffic, just MORE sunshine period.  Are we NOT selling sunshine as a product?  

      Our neighbors, Cuba, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Honduras, ect  are using DST, why not us?  (again, Bermuda has the jump on us)

      So far, the talk shows and Govt arenot interested, but I am trying to find the downside to this.  I think the PR could be good.



      • Ali Louya says:

        Daylight saving is a no brainer – it also costs business a fortune in missed calls in March and November.

  20. Rorschach says:

    Will Jean-Michel Cousteau be on hand again to " go down wiz ze sheep"???

  21. Anonymous says:

    A day late and a dollar short.

    The S.S. Minnow/Cayman will be sunk before the Kittiwake has any effect.

  22. Anonymous says:

    why no mention of costs?  did this come out of the public purse?  sounds like a FOI request to me…. 

    anyways, finally a home for all the lion fish!

  23. Anonymous says:

    How do you charge for this and how will you enforce it?  Will there be a floating ticket booth above the vessel similar to the proposed floating bar at stingray city?  Can’t we just sink the ship and let the private sector deal with marketing aspects?  Parks or Farms ‘for profit’ will not work on this island… just look at the turtle farm disaster.  Don’t get me wrong, i think its a great idea since all hazardous materials will be removed… actually shouldn’t they be removed already? 

  24. philip says:

    I just went to the website link provided, it looks like only dive vessels that have been licensed by the CITA can go to this "park" , why are private vessels allowed?, I would much prefer to dive this site with just a couple of my friends on my boat, i have no problem paying the fee, but being forced to use one of the CITA members boats  is a bit unfair.

    • You see Phillip my dear, dey na whanna shrare wid you little boys, like everything else on this Island the associations, CITA /CC/ ETC are made up of their cronies, they all have a piece of the pie but yet they are the same ones that tell you Government aint doing enough, these are the people that are fixing the cost on  every thing here and you and I have to grin and bear it while they live in their ivory towers, drive their fancy vechicles and bleed the tourist  and you and I to death.

      A bad deal is a bad deal no matter which tower or corner  it comes  out of.



  25. Anonymous says:

    Hope this sinking ship can help save our sinking ship!!

  26. Lachlan MacTavish says:

     Bob Soto had the "ahead of its time" vision of what a wreck could do for water sports tourism. I wish the CITA good luck with this wreck.

    • Kassie says:

      It is a terrible, tacky idea which will not bring a single new visitor here.

  27. whodatis says:

    Someone help me out please.

    I normally choose to not comment on things that I do not fully understand or have experience in – but … is this an "attractive" tourist attraction?

    Sounds a bit forced and superficial to me – but perhaps I am simply ignorant to the issue.

    Perhaps those in the know could shed a bit of light? I am not an avid diver or water sportsman at all so I honestly have no idea what to make of this one.

    In any event I do wish the project directors the greatest success in this endeavor – the country needs all the help it can get now.

    • Anonymous says:

      This should prove to be a major boon to watersports operators.

      Grand Cayman has reefs and undersea walls in abundance buit not very many wrecks suitable for scuba diving – particularly intact wrecks. This has been a bit of a deficiency in the scuba diving product offerings here.

      The Florida Keys and Florida Panhandle have seen divers choosing those vacation spots specifically because of artificial reefs made by sinking ships. While we are not sinking an aircraft carrier here, the Kittiwake is a sizable ship which should make a real splash in the diving community.



      • whodatis says:

        Many thanks!

        Sounds very interesting – I am one of those many Caymanians that haven’t the faintest clue about scuba diving.

        Must be the Yardie genes from way back when!


        • Anonymous says:

          Try it out! You can do a resort course easy enoughand the underwater here is the best part of the landscape!

          It’ll definitely give you a new appreciation of all that water that surrounds you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Only one watersport operator is going to benefit from this, the one charging admission. The other firms are likely to lose business if more of their clients are choosing to dive the wreck instead of the reefs they are allowed to dive on free.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Where exactly, in the Cayman Islands, is this ship to be sunk?  Can’t find mention of it anywhere!

    • Anonymous says:


      The 2,290-ton 251-foot ship will be sunk off the cost of the West Bay Public Beach, creating the Kittiwake Shipwreck Park.

  29. Rectus femoris says:

    Why are we so stupid? Why?

    Shipwrecks On Coral Reefs Harbor Unwanted Species

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 22, 2008) — Shipwrecks on coral reefs may increase invasion of unwanted species, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study. These unwanted species can completely overtake the reef and eliminate all the native coral, dramatically decreasing the diversity of marine organisms on the reef. This study documents for the first time that a rapid change in the dominant biota on a coral reef is unambiguously associated with man-made structures.

    More at:


    Shipwrecks Wrecking Coral Reefs? A Case Study At Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2009) — For the first time, researchers have definitively shown that shipwrecks and other man-made structures increase the potential for large invasions of unwanted species into coral reefs, even comparatively pristine ones. These unwanted species can completely overtake a reef and eliminate native corals, dramatically decreasing the diversity of marine organisms on the reef. Coral reefs can undergo fast changes in their dominant life forms, a phenomenon referred to as phase shift.

    More at:


    • Well says:

      Our reefs are dead anyway, adding this ship to the ecosystem wont do any more harm. If we had been taking care of our reefs the way we should this exercise would really be a joke, but now its one of the many "lifelines" we are throwing out in the hopes that someone will "save us"



    • Anonymous says:

      Please do some serious studies  before bringing this ship to 7 mile beach area.  Will this do us more harm than good???  Listen to experts on this. GOD gave this beautiful island and the seas their natural beauty – nothing artificial!!  All our islands and surroundings are the natural works of GOD.  If a hurricane comes this way do we want to see pieces of this ship watching up on our shores?? Remember  IVAN  and all those big boats washing up on land?? How soon do we forget!!

    • Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

      Here’s an angle, Rectus:  CITA can rent out Kevlar wetsuits for $30 a dive.   You’re quite right; put down a wreck and the lionfish will make themselves at home.  On the up side, it will make the wreck more interesting while it matures into a reef.

  30. Billy says:

    Please let there be a floating bar over the top, or maybe on board.

    Then it can be just like Sting Ray City!


  31. Anonymous says:

    Very good! Only 15 years behind Cayman Brac. What next build a bluff? Oh wait you already started mount trashmore