Monday, 13 October 2008

Cayman to sink US subtender


Wreck to be sunk at popular dive site - story written for divermag.com.

A 63-year old decommissioned US Naval vessel will soon be acquired by the government of the Cayman Islands and is slated to become Grand Cayman’s newest dive attraction. At a recent press briefing held in Toronto, Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce Minister Charles Clifford told Diver Magazine that he expects the USS Kittiwake to be sunk off the popular Seven Mile Beach in June, 2009.
Just a few days before speaking to Diver Mag, Minister Clifford signed an agreement on behalf of his government with the Cayman Islands Tourists Association. The agreement formalizes the government's plan to acquire the decommissioned naval ship in order to create a new dive site and give “desired relief for some of our frequently visited dive sites.”

For years the Tourist Association has been trying to acquire a US navy ship to sink off Grand Cayman. Spearheading the campaign to find and sink a ship is Canadian diver Nancy Easterbrook. Easterbrook runs Divetech, a popular dive operation in Grand Cayman and has been appointed the project manager for the sinking of the submarine tender.

In a recent government press release Easterbrook is quoted as saying, “The Kittiwake has been a labour of love and really hard work for over five years, but it is coming to fruition now. It will be transferred to government before year-end for cleaning and remediation, with an expected sinking date around June 2009.”

According to Minister Clifford, the dive industry in Cayman has already established where the vessel is going to be sunk. She will be put down onto a sand patch north of the capital city of Georgetown, off the Seven Mile Beach.

“We all look forward to seeing water-based tourism in Grand Cayman stimulated by this new underwater attraction, suitable for both divers and snorkelers,” said Easterbrook.

Built in 1945, USS Kittiwake (ASR-13), the ship is 251ft 4in (76.6m) long and 42 ft (12.8 meters) wide. During her service from 1946 to September 1994, the Kittiwake made numerous voyages between the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in support of the American submarine fleet and to conduct rescue missions for the US Navy.

During her years of service, the official crest of the Kittiwake bore the twin images of a submarine and divers hardhat. Much loved by the thousands of sailors who served on her the vessel was often called the “Kitty Cat”. She carried a compliment of 102 officers and sailors and had two large 20 mm deck guns.

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