Kittiwake sinking schedule announced

The
Kittiwake, an ex-submarine rescue ship, is to be sunk off Seven Mile Beach on
Tuesday, 27 July, and will create an artificial reef and new dive site.

The
long-running project has been seven years in the making, with the Cayman
Islands Tourism Association, the Ministry of Tourism, Finance, Investment and
Commerce, the Department of Tourism and private sector sponsors supporting the
project.

The
Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that the week leading up to the sinking
will be filled with special events.

“To
kick off the celebrations of this new attraction, an Island Elegant Gala Dinner
will be held on Saturday, 24 July accompanied by a live and silent auction for
highly coveted one of kind artefacts from the ship and memorable experiences
such as the first dive or snorkel on the Kittiwake.

“In
addition to the attendance of Government Officials, local and overseas guests
and media many Kittiwake ex-crew members and their family will add to the
authentic experience throughout the evening,” said the association.

Subject
to weather and other extenuating factors, public topside viewing of the ship
will take place on Monday, 26 July from 9am to 2pm including a special
dedication ceremony for invited guests on the Kittiwake ship from 4pm – 5pm.

The
sinking will occur the following day on Tuesday, 27 July between 10am and 1pm.
Spectators will be able to view from a distance. On Wednesday, 28 July the new
Cayman Kittiwake Wreck Attraction will be closed for safety inspections and
final preparations. The following day, Wednesday, 29 July between 9am and 11am
the first dive, snorkel and semi-sub trip will take place.

Benefits

According
to a media release by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, there are many
benefits to the creation of a new attraction for the island.

“The
ex-USS Kittiwake began as a dream to add another tourism product to the Island
for divers and snorkelers offering more diversity and interest to those who
have come to love Cayman. Although it has been long awaited it could not have
come at a better time considering the economy is still set at mediocre levels.
The excitement and hype from international media attention will be very
welcomed.

“The
sinking of a vessel such as this has far reaching benefits other than just the
economic impact by gaining another tourism attraction. Preserving the
historical maritime history of a ship which protected its nation for decades
fits in well with Cayman’s long maritime history and motto, He Hath Founded It
Upon The Seas.  The preservation of this
ship underwater will last for many, many decades, prolonging her life versus
the option of scrapping a decommissioned ship,” said the tourism association.

From
an environmental perspective, said project manager Nancy Easterbrook, the new
shipwreck will also create another habitat for marine life in the Cayman
Islands

“The
Kittiwake shipwreck attraction may assist in diversifying the product offering
in order to reduce the environmental impact on Stingray City and other frequented
reefs by cruise ship traffic and stay-over guests for dive and snorkelling,”
she said.

Constantly-evolving
laws and regulations regarding artificial reefs have beset the project’s development
since its outset, but the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that they had
ensured that the all precautions were strictly followed to ensure hazardous
materials, paint, lubricants, oils and fuels were removed prior to sinking to
ensure there would be no harm to Cayman marine life or waters.

A
new website has been launched to accompany the project at
www.kittiwakecayman.com.

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