Officials cross fingers for sinking of Kittiwake

| 30/12/2010

(CNS): Weather permitting and all things being equal, the sinking of the ex-USS Kittiwake is finally expected to take place on Tuesday morning at 10:00am. The de-commissioned naval/submarine vessel that is being sunk to create a new dive attraction in Grand Cayman is currently docked at the George Town Port, where it is being prepped for sinking, officials confirmed Thursday. 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, arrived in Grand Cayman on Christmas Day after a 10-day towing period from the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia, USA. (Photo from Kittiwake website)

A project of the Ministry and Department of Tourism in partnership with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the idea for acquiring the Kittiwake to create a new dive attraction for the Cayman Islands had its genesis some seven years ago. The Cayman Islands’ 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 Bush described the sinking as the single most significant occurrence in a decade for Cayman’s dive industry. “Our tourism stakeholders in both the public and private sectors are naturally very excited about it,” he said. “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 Kittiwake will be sunk on the north end of Seven Mile Beach and joins 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.

On Monday lunchtime 3 January there will be a brief dedication ceremony and unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Tenders for the general public to circle the Kittiwake will be operating every 30 minutes between 2 and 4pm. The sinking event will take place off West Bay Public Beach at 10:00am on Tuesday 4 January.

For more information and to follow the developments of the Kittiwake visit


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  1. silencekills says:

    Why on God’s green earth are they sinking this thing when most of the island will be back at work? 5 years in the making and they cannot wait one more week? Poor, poor planning.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Our two daughters would have loved to watch this, but they’ll be back in school.  Should have happened one day earlier!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    what a stupid date!  everyone has to go back to work on Tuesday duh! We all just had holiday and vacation how about a Saturday?  All the potential and as usual its "sunk" by poor planning?  I looked so forward to this but sorry I can’t ask for Tuesday off and or give my staff more time off either… Tuesday is the first working day of the New Year… what a boneheaded decision!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Donated?? please Gov bought this ship with the peoples money and is handing the thing over to the CITA to charge everyone to go on it. rediculous!!!

  5. F H says:

    On the subject of PR i hope that issue with the Cayman Islands film Commission Ltd gets resolved as i made efforts to contact them and found out the email address is infact a former Caymanian resident in the UK everything is so complicated in Cayman these days. I hope Nat Geo and Myth busters had more success than i did.

  6. Anonymous says:

     Great for it to be here and ready to be sunk. Well done to all whom have worked hard for this day. BUT, why do you schedule the sinking of this new site on the 1st day when people are returning to work? You did not really think this through. It will not only be visiting divers who will visit this site. The local dive community will also visit it frequently, and we would have loved to see this sinking taking place. Now you will take that opportunity away from us. 

    You would have had a greater audience, not just divers, on a public holiday like the 1st, or over a weekend.

    Just my thought!

    • Anonymus says:

      Yeah, my suspicion is they would have preferred another day too. This also doesn’t give them much time to set up the international PR they were reportedly hoping for as well. I’m guessing they want it under water as fast as possible. Every day its above water is probabyl costing them fees to the towing, etc., companies who’se job it is to keep it above water until the right time/place. – But I’m not associated with the project either, so thats just guesswork.

    • Mark How says:

      I agree, it took 7 years to get here, a few more days could not have hurt. I think Sunday the 9th would have been a better time. Most people off work and prob no cruise ships.