After several false starts at getting the former USS Kittiwake to the Cayman Islands, the vessel began its journey to the bottom of the sea Wednesday.
At 11.30am, water was being pumped into cutouts made in the ship’s hull. Once those reach the waterline the Kittiwake will begin sinking faster. Just after 2pm, the craft was sinking low into the water.
It was shortly before 3pm Wednesday that the soon-to-be wreck dive site went completely below the waves, according to observers.
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Tuesday’s sinking was delayed at her sinking site off West Bay Public Beach because winds of 15 knots were too high to allow for the process to go ahead. But the dedication ceremony of the vessel went off without a hitch on Monday.
Representatives of the public and private sectors were on board Kittiwake to hear speeches from some of those who had been involved with the groundbreaking tourism project.
Following the singing of the national song by Shameca Clarke, Felix Manzanares led the attendees in a prayer.
Cayman Islands Tourism Association president Harry Lalli then made a short speech in which he said that the project had been an eight-year one and the dedication of all those involved had made the dream come true.
Representing the government, Cline Glidden of the Ministerial Council for Tourism, said it was a successful partnership between private industry and the Cayman Islands government and he paid tribute to those who had come on board with financial and other help. He expressed his hopes that the partnership between the public and private sectors would continue to flourish and praised the hard work and persistence shown by everyone involved.
“[Initially, project leader Nancy Easterbrook] had asked for $500,000 but was told she could have $50,000 and would have to raise the rest. The private sector stepped up and raised the money…
“I would like to thank Nancy and Jay Easterbrook who have gone way beyond the call of duty to make sure that this happened,” said Mr. Glidden, who revealed he had recently attained his own dive certification.
Mr. Glidden also welcomed Jon Gladstein, an ex-crew member of Kittiwake who was on board for the ceremony. Mr. Gladstein handed over the official Kittiwake flag to Mr. Glidden, who after two attempts smashed a champagne bottle on the vessel to mark the occasion. A plaque was also unveiled.
Stephen Broadbelt, a past president of the CITA, then thanked sponsors of the project which ranged from large organisations and companies to private individuals.
He added that sponsorship opportunities were still available to assist with the project’s continued running costs. He also thanked contractors, media and a host of other organisations who had put in their expertise, time and energy into the complex project, which he said would add significantly to the tourism product of the Cayman Islands for decades to come.
For more information on sinking events and the latest updates, continue to check www.compasscayman.com