Kittiwake scuttled at last!

| 05/01/2011

(CNS): After more than seven years of planning and numerous twists and turns the Kittiwake was finally scuttled yesterday in front of an excited crowd on the beach and the water. The slow, controlled sinking took more than four and a half hours but it was in the last few moments that the show really took off when the former US naval vessel began to disappear under a cascade of bubbles into the water to her final resting place. The ship which will create a new artificial reef and dive attraction will open for business tomorrow even though it still seems to be very close to the surface. Pictures taken yesterday (below) show people standing on the vessel which appears to be just a few feet below at its highest point. (Photos Dennie Warren Jr)

Officials say that the wreck will settle to around 15 feet below the water, even though it appears to be higher than that at present. The vessel has not sunk down to the level expected yet as a result of recent shifting sand which has raised the sea bad and the air pockets which were expected to be removed Thursday.Organisers said that within a short time the Kittiwake will drop a few feet further and then over the coming weeks and months settle down to a lower depth. 

Forming a new marine park the Kittiwake is expected to attract divers and fish creating a new underwater environment off the coast of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. The 47-foot-tall ship’s expected depth was around 62 feet down and the top deck was always meant to remain relatively close to the surface making it accessible for snorkelers as well as the divers who will be able to go further down and appreciate the full wreck.

During the sinking event crews flooded the rusted hulk of the 2,200-ton ship with some 200,000 gallons of water through holes bored in the side so that it would settle on the sandy seabed in an upright position allowing light to flow through the vessel from all angles. Although it leaned a little during sinking divers who were monitoring the scuttling said it had in fact landed on its keel as intended.

The ship, which during its naval history assisted US submarine operations around the world, arrived in Cayman on Christmas morning having been anchored among other rusty ships of the James River Reserve Fleet, aka the "Ghost Fleet," in Virginia.

Divers will be attaching mooring lines to the wreck on Thursday before the new attraction opens for the public officially on Friday. Anyone wishing to dive in the new park can contact a list of

The scuttling which was a significant event for Cayman’s tourism business was filmed by a collection of international media as well as various TV channels such as National Geographic and Discovery.

Anyone wishing to dive in the new park can contact a list of licensed operators on the website as well as view pictures and video of the sinking


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  1. 5% says:

    Hmmm i wonder how much cash this project cost the island??

    • Anonymous says:

      I rather wonder how much cash it will bring the island, but that will be hard to measure…

  2. A Concerned Young Caymanian Father says:

    I was there for pretty much the whole thing and watched her go down QUICKLY once the water got to the right level.

    For those who didn’t get to witness it live, there are quite a few very good quality videos of it on Youtube, including ones with her on the bottom and upright…NICE!

    Yes, she does appear to be shallower than expected, but it was also low tide when she was sunk. I expect there will be moorings and markers set up around the site, so as to not pose a risk to boaters.

    Here are some links to some of the vids:


  3. Anonymous says:

    How many feet below the surface is this ship? and if it is not deep enough isn’t it going to be a marine hazzard? and how are we going to fix it?

    Rumour has it something went wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      in the video, someone is standing on it with their waist out of the water. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The sink went down at low tide I believe. It’s also expected to sink about another 8 feet into the seabed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    out of interest does anyone know how the sea and sea bed has achived private park status – i didn’t think anyone could own it

    CNS: The seabed surrounding the islands is owned by the crown and known as "the Queen’s Bottom".

    • royalist says:

      That will be THE Crown and THE Queen.

      Know your place Cayman, you are but a bump on The Queen’s bottom.

    • noname says:

      Maybe the same way someone was allowed to set up a private business in the public waters off the Seven Mile Public Beach???

      I guess now the precedent has been set we can all do it, right?

  5. BBTS says:

    There are a lot of rumors saying that the sinking of this vessel was not in deep enough water. In fact I have been told that someone was standing on the top of it after it sank and was only waist deep in the water. Can anyone confirm or deny this. If it is this shallow isn’t this considered a navigational hazard?

    • Ron Kipp says:

      There is always a lot of rumors flying around. If you do not hear one by 10 am you are required, by law, to start one.  The Kittiwake is sunk in a PERFECT depth. Great for divers and the wheelhouse will be wonderful for snorkelers, GBB, etc. The mast does come with 4 feet of the surface and if this is a navigation proplem it can easily be removed.

      I would have hoped that in the New Yearwe could all have a more positive attitude…especially about truly positive things.

      Ron Kipp

      • yes says:

        …couldn’t agree more. People seem to have the most negative outlook on everything imaginable. It wouldn’t hurt to not make mountains out of mole hills and to maybe appreciate the fact that this is a step in the right direction for Cayman’s tourism industry. Stop being so sour people!

  6. la la land says:

    At last, saw the Kittiwake sunk into the abyss. I just closed my eyes at work and imagine the event, because I could not get off at 10 a.m. and pull my kids from the classrooms to see it. Oh what a boomer!  I guess next time. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great work guys, this will be great for the Cayman Islands.

  8. Anonymous says:

    "the vessel is believed to now be on the seabed" Well there’s the best CNS quote of 2011 so far. Are you suggesting it may be somewhere else?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I take it that you are willing to pay for the equipment necessary to carry live broadcast video from underwater?  Or to pay to have it flown in?  Because, as far as I know, that equipment is not on island.

    Also, I am curious, how do you know footage is not being provided to off-island media outlets?

    Are all the media outlets in the habit of informing you as to what they are doing day-to-day?


    • Anonymous says:

      I think they forgot to read this line – "The scuttling was also filmed by a collection of international media as well as various TV channels such as National Geographic and Discovery"

      • Anonymous says:

         Sure, but not the much hyped "LIVE Feed".  Anyway, doesn’t matter now.

    • Anonymous says:

      We are all savvy enough to know we can view live footage of the Deepwater Horizon spill from >5000 feet. USD$750 (duty free) to acquire a brand new Seaviewer HD camera which comes with 150′ of cable.  Hardly a financial barrier.  


      • Anonymous says:

        It is if you don’t have USD$750 to spend…

        Again, are you willing to buy it?

      • Anonymous says:

        I did not realize that the Deepwater Horizon footage was high definition video.  The stuff I saw looked pretty bad, from a video quality standpoint.

        Anyway, USD$750 is a reasonable cost to be sure.  But ifyou don’t already have that gear and do not have the USD$750 to purchase one, it may very well be that purchasing one for the purpose of covering a few minutes of a boat sinking would be pretty low on the "list of things to do" – especially in this economy.



  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I’m sorry to say that the live feed was very disappointing.

    When the screen wasn’t black, there were people standing in front of the camera, walking back and forth, waving to the camera, taking photos in front of the camera. 

    I was hoping to watch it on the news this evening?? I HOPE!! 

    Shame for such a big deal.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I was hugely disappointed with the sinking process. I heard on the radio that the sinking would take 30 minutes from Steve Broadbelt and at 11:30am the latest word was another 4 hours. It was regrettable that I was unable to watch the sinking and I believe it could have been managed better.

    Thanks to all involved regardless.

  12. Macman says:

    Wait a year or so and the whole of the Island will be sunk!

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is great for Cayman, but very disappointed by the coverage.  It’s highly unusual for any warship to be sunk for an artificial reef, even less routine for a US Naval Ship to be sunk anywhere.  I am amazed there are not more live cameras going both on the surface, in the boat and underwater. There should be multiple static cameras and angles going as well as interviews and vignettes. Instead, we have intermittent  low-def cell phone coverage and the backs of media personal from a cell taped to a strut of a Red Sail boat.  Local Cable channels 24, 27, 37 have no live coverage which they could have syndicated to news outlets around the world.  This could have been newsworthy on Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, CBC, BBC, Headline News, Fox News and other outlets and would have done more for Cayman Tourism in one day than the last 4 years of advertising efforts.  Oh well, next time.      

    • Subway Cookie says:

      Ummm that’s cuz no-one cares.  Havent you noticed the media only harps on about the negative stuff.

      • granny says:

        People..come on…….think the big picture…

        Imagine in a few years or maybe sooner(not an expert on this)

        but I would love to go back and dive the site…

    • Swine says:

      I’m sure they are planning it all backwards, I am certain that in all of the 7 years that they have been "Planning" this event, they could have never left out world wide coverage, could they? I mean seriously, you speak the truth in stating that it would be many times more beneficial in regards to the promotion of Caymans tourism product, at pennies to the dollar in comparison to what is currently being spent on our leaders international romping escapades, I mean to "promote" the Cayman Islands!  Now that they may be enlightened to this possibility, they will send divers down to weld up the holes they have cut in to the hull to sink it, then they will spend millions to refloat it, and redo this whole event with world wide coverage.  There is more coverage from BlackBerry users posting on FaceBook, than there is from local media, much less international media.  GREAT JOB!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        If you think that people are going to tune in for five hours to watch 20 seconds of a ship sinking, you’re an idiot.

        International media WAS there covering the event and will be showing that footage around the world.

        Go back to picking your nose.

        • Anonymous says:

          Over 7000 tuned into live footage link, some from as far away as Japan at 3am+ their time.  

        • Swine says:

          Are you kidding me? I bet you tuned in to the recent oil spill for more than 1 month to watch idiots running in circles who have no idea what they should even think about doing.  Please inform me of the International Media, besides NG and Discovery.  I agree that those two are probably going to have the most impact, but so much more could have been done!  Otherwise, if you are speaking of BlackBerry users posting on FaceBook, then I will also have to agree with you, as FaceBook is also International!  If there is anyone out there who has the means and ability to put documentaries together, this is also a very good idea, since there is so much footage of the event!!  It could also be promoted all over the world, and it is still not too late to do!

          By the way, I dont pick my nose, I use a plunger.

          • Anonymous says:

            Footage of the event has been requested and sent to media outlets around the world.

            You really don’t know what is going on, so please do not criticize.


            • Swine says:

              If they had made the event known to numerous international media outlets before time, they would have had their own reporters here, maybe even from the point that it was sitting in the US, all through its journey here, up to and after the point of the sinking, all taking footage from many different angles, and each could have put together their own report of the event.  That could have been hundreds of different outlets, with hundreds times more footage, going back to hundreds of different parts of the world.  At this point, now we have creeping international interest, and info being slowly passed around, showing the same half a$$ footage, with the same copied story.  Don’t hurt yourself trying to do this, as many people here find it difficult to think about tomorrow, even with 7 years of "planning", but if you think of the future possibilities, things like documentaries could have been produced, maybe even a movie?  Stories about the life of the ship, how it served, and stories/docs from and about the crew etc etc etc, endless possibilities with footage, news, and information that could have been recorded from what we had access to from this entire event from beginning to end.  This could have been produced in to a much bigger event, with much more coverage, with a GREAT potential to be more than just an intentional shipwreck dive attraction.  Don’t know if you are able to pick any sense out of that, but that’s just my opinion!

              Are you the same person that told me "Go back to picking my nose"?

              • Anonymous says:

                International media was notified prior to the event.  Due to the changes of schedule many were unable to attend.  Which is why a complete effort was made to cover the event and provide footage and photos to international media.

                The trip to Cayman, the arrival in Cayman, the tour before sinking and the sinking itself were all covered in detail and that coverage made available to international media.

                Not sure how it is you think you have a measure of international media interest as you are not involved.

                Give the locals a little credit for knowing how to do their jobs.


                • Swine says:

                  Can I see some of it please?  I have now seen a few different news agencies produce only a copy of the same EVERYTHING.  I just had a thought that after 7 years of planning, they might have had enough time to take everything possible into account, as well as the possibilities to maximize exposure, capitalize on the massive opportunity for documentaries, movies, stories, etc.  These could have been a source of massive income potential, but of course, only an idiot like me who has no idea of anything would think of that.  I have to agree that a lot of media could not be there because of plan changes etc, that is completely understandable.  This has been in plans for 7 years, why were there so many plan changes, the weather?, for seven years?  Or were they debating the speed that they should tow it at, what kind of chemicals and scrapers to clean the ship with, which ship to get, where to put it, up side down or right side up?  I’m not trying to discredit anyone, the event was a success, and I am sure that it will make a very productive site.  I only thought that after 7 years of planning, there would have been maximum media coverage, and much more income possibilities considered, involved, and maximized.  Please do not take this to heart orfeel that you are someones superman, as this is only my 2 cents.  Was just a thought as well as an observation.  The job was still well done, commends to all those involved, it will undoubtedly be a good attraction.  Maybe next time something of similarity is done, other possibilities could also be included. 

                  • Anonymous says:

                    There has been maximum media coverage.  If you have missed that, it does not change the fact.  You have complained and criticized that certain things were not done when, in fact, they were done.

                    It was a job well done.  By all concerned.  And your halfwit typing will not change that.

                    Go home.

    • Mark How says:

      You have no idea thetrouble that went into this project. Be glad it’s down.

      • Anonymous says:

        We are grateful to Nancy and her team for getting her here.  She will be a fantastic draw for many decades.  Disappointed by the ineptitude and indifference of those covering the event locally on the day of peak anticipation and newsworthiness.