Joined: 14 Feb 2005
Location: Cayman Islands
|Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:31 pm Post subject: |
|Here's the latest release on the U.S.S. Kittiwake
Courtesy of Caymanian Compass:
Ex-U.S.S. Kittiwake to Sink off Seven Mile Beach This Summer
March 19, 2010
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (March 9, 2010) – The Cayman Islands is now the proud owner of the ex-U.S.S. Kittiwake, soon to be Grand Cayman’s newest dive attraction. The Kittiwake left the James River Reserve Fleet in St. Eustis, Virginia on February 18, 2010 and will be towed to Grand Cayman after being cleaned. The 251-foot military vessel will be sunk on the north end of Grand Cayman’s world famous Seven Mile Beach, providing 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 Ministry and Department of Tourism in partnership with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) embarked on the project some seven years ago and are all eager to witness the sinking of the Kittiwake slated for July/August of this year.
“Dive has always been a cornerstone of the tourism industry here in Cayman, so when CITA came to us many years ago with the idea for a new dive attraction to stimulate tourism, we were happy to support the project financially,” said the Premier of the Cayman Islands, Hon. McKeeva Bush, also Minister for Finance, Tourism & Development. “As we took over this time we were determined to see this worthy project through to completion. This is a perfect example of the Cayman Islands Government and private sector working together for the mutual benefit of tourism.”
CITA agrees. "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. CITA came on board and matched those funds and both parties have committed to keeping the project moving forward the past seven years.”
The 5-deck, 2200-ton Kittiwake was originally commissioned as a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship in the United States Navy during World War II. Now it will join the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, a Russian Frigate sunk off the coast of Cayman Brac in 1996, at the forefront of the artificial reef movement in the Caribbean.
The Kittiwake will be an interesting attraction, with lots of rooms such as the recompression chamber, air bank storage, engine room and dive locker for divers and snorkelers to explore. Being sunk in only 65 feet of water, the top of the bridge and smoke stack will be 20 feet from the surface -- perfect for snorkelers,” commented Easterbrook.
Steve Broadbelt, President of CITA, noted: “The Kittiwake will stimulate tourism and bring much needed visitors and repeat guests to our islands. Diving shipwrecks is one of the most popular reasons for going diving or snorkeling. Cayman has always been a leader in the diving industry and this project will position us a hot spot for many years to come. Being both a dive and snorkel attraction, it will be opened as a new tour for both stay-over and cruise visitors later on this year. It’s the single biggest project for the water sports industry since Stingray City."
The Kittiwake was selected for the reefing project due to her size and height being suitable for Cayman waters, as well as her overall weight, being a very heavy, solid steel ship with 18 bulkheads. This type of ship will have the longest life underwater and will be less susceptible to break-up and damage due to storms.
“It is exciting to see this project move to the next phase with the Cayman Islands now owning the Kittiwake,” said Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism. “The DOT anticipates that the Kittiwake will create a lot of buzz and visitor arrivals as it’s new, exciting and highlights Cayman’s significant dive and water-based tourist market.”
Prior to sinking, the Kittiwake will be thoroughly prepared for guests. All hazardous materials and chemicals will be removed to ensure that they won’t 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.
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. CITA watersports operators have always been committed to safety and multiple steps are being taken to ensure that a safe and enjoyable tour of the ship will be available.
Joe Stebbins, Editor
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