The U.S.S. Kittiwake, a decommissioned, 251-foot military ship will soon be towed to Grand Cayman for its last assignment: Cayman’s newest dive attraction.
The culmination of a seven-year project between the Ministry and the Department of Tourism, the Kittiwake left the James River Reserve Fleet in St. Eustis, Virginia, on February 18 to be cleaned prior to its arrival in Cayman.
The military vessel will be sunk sometime in July or August this summer on the north end of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach to provide underwater enthusiasts of all skill levels with a new year-round diving destination.
“Without the initial conceptual and financial support of the Ministry of Tourism, led by the Premier, the Honourable McKeeva Bush, then Minister of Tourism, the Kittiwake would never have happened,” said Nancy Easterbrook, Kittiwake project manager.
“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,” said Ms Easterbrook.
“CITA came on board and matched those funds and both parties have committed to keeping the project moving forward the past seven years.”
Prior to sinking, the Kittiwake will be thoroughly prepared for divers and the waters here. All hazardous materials and chemicals will be removed to ensure that they will not leach into Cayman waters.
Multiple vertical and horizontal cutouts will open up the ship to allow natural light to flood the body and enable divers to explore the entire ship safely.
Once sunk, the ship will be marked with corresponding slates for boat operators and divers/snorkelers to be able to easily identify where they are on the ship.
Steve Broadbelt, president of CITA, said that the Kittiwake will boost tourism, bringing new visitors and repeat guests to the islands, since diving shipwrecks is one of the most popular reasons for going diving or snorkeling.