Wreck anniversary plans underway

It has been 15 years since the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts Russian frigate was sunk off the coast of Cayman Brac and preparations to celebrate the anniversary of the sinking are underway. 

First, there will be an international photo contest to find the best underwater photographs of the wreck, followed by the “Brac Bash”, a weekend of parties and celebrations. 

The final entry date for the photo contest, which is open only to nonresidents of the Cayman Islands, is 30 August. Entries should be submitted to the Sister Islands Tourism Association at [email protected] 

The winner will be flown to Cayman Brac, given a week’s stay at the Brac Reef Beach Resort and six days of two-tank diving at Reef Divers. The winner will also receive free admission to the Brac Bash and Cook-off and be a judge at the cooking event. 

The Brac Bash will run from 30 September to 2 October and includes a welcome party at Brac Reef Beach Resort and a video presentation on the history of the sinking of the Russian frigate. Family members of the late Captain Keith Tibbetts, after whom the ship is named, will speak at the event. On Saturday, 1 October, the Brac Cook-Off will be held where the culinary skills of the best cooks on the island will be tested, followed by an after party at The Alexander Hotel. On Sunday, 2 October, island tours and visitor craft sessions will be available. 

The Cayman Islands Government bought the 330-foot-long Russian frigate in 1996.  

The ship, originally called Patrol Vessel 356, was renamed after Keith Tibbetts, a local businessman, politician and diver. 

It was built in 1984 in the former USSR at a cost of about US$30 million dollars. It was stationed in Cuba during the Cold War, but when the Cold War ended and the USSR broke up, the boat was abandoned and its crew returned to Russia. 

The ship was sunk on 17 September, 1996, about 300 yards off Buccaneer Slip on the northwest shore of the island. As it descended to its final resting place, marine biologist Jean-Michael Cousteau and others went down with it, diving alongside the boat in their scuba gear as it sank. 

The MV Captain Keith Tibbetts has become a popular diving site for divers visiting Cayman Brac over the years. It has been buffeted by storms over the years and is now broken in two, but divers can still dive within the boat. 

Local Story

The MV Capt. Keith Tibbetts was sunk on 17 September, 1996. – PHOTO: DOT