November 23, 2020

Boat parade and dive marks Kittiwake anniversary

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The boats circled around the site of the Kittiwake

A circle of nearly a dozen dive boats and other small vessels marked the first anniversary of the sinking of the Kittiwake, a designer dive-site off the coast of West Bay.

The parade, which was organised by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), was completed with the 3-canon salute from the Jolly Roger pirate ship, after which many divers and snorkellers jumped into the sea, to see what they could see.

There was even a helicopter too, to record the spectacle from a bird’s eye view.

Jane van der Bol, Executive Director Cayman Islands Tourism Association

Jane van der Bol Executive Director Cayman Islands Tourism Association said: “It’s been a fabulous success – an incredible year. We had hoped that probably ten thousand divers and snorkelers would experience the Kittiwake, but 11 thousand divers and 9 thousand snorkelers –over 20 thousand people altogether, have been on the Kittiwake in the past year.

“The Kittiwake is one of the top 12 wrecks of the world according to Scuba Diving Magazine. I’ve dived her and its very exciting. She’s so long, and has five floors so you can spend quite a bit of time on the Kittiwake, it’s a fabulous dive.

“The Kittiwake saved other people in boats and submarines,” Ms van der Bol continued. “She used to be a saver of divers, and there are decompression chambers on the Kittiwake. You can go into the bathrooms, and the glass mirrors are there, and you can see yourself diving.

“And the fish love it. When I went diving there was a big grouper staring at himself in the mirror.”

Kittiwake facts

  • Kittiwake was launched 10 July 1945 and was a United States Navy Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel in commission to 1994.
  • On 23 April 1984, Kittiwake collided with the attack submarine USS Bergall (SSN-667) at Norfolk, Virginia.
  • The Kittiwake is 251 feet long, 44 feet on her beam, and drafted 19 feet fully loaded. Her light displacement was 1704 tons and full displacement was 2193 tons.
  • There are five decks on the 47 foot tall Kittiwake.
  • Originally intended to be sunk in June 2009, it was finally sunk on 5 January 2011. The Kittiwake is resting upright in 62 feet of water on a sandy bottom.
(Photos by: Christopher Tobutt)
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