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Decommissioned U.S. Navy ship scuttled off Cayman Islands to create artificial reef


There's a new artificial reef for divers to explore off the Cayman Islands following the scuttling this week of a decommissioned U.S. Navy vessel.

The USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, now rests on the seabed 62-feet underwater off Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. With the 47-foot-tall ship's top deck near the surface, it should be accessible to snorkelers as well as scuba divers.

"It was just perfect execution, nice and even. She landed exactly where she was supposed to," project manager Nancy Easterbrook told Associated Press during a phone interview from a nearby boat on Seven Mile Beach.

Crews strategically punched holes in the ship's hull and then carefully flooded the vessel so that the 2,200-ton ship would settle upright, which it appears to have done.


After mooring lines are attached, the scuttled Kittiwake should be open to the public Friday, according to Easterbrook.

The Kittiwake's sinking raised mixed emotions in Jon Glatstein, who was a sailor on the vessel from 1984 to 1986, and traveled from Miami to watch his old ship scuttled.

"This is the first time I've seen the ship in 25 years, and she's in pretty rough shape. But she's been serving divers all her life and now she's going to continue doing just that. That's got to be a whole lot better than getting melted down for razor blades," said Glatstein.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Divers watch the sinking of the USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, off the Cayman Islands.

Credit: Associated Press /Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Video: A view above and below water during the sinking of the USS Kittiwake.

Credit: Sean Crothers / Sunset House Cayman via YouTube


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Comments (3)

Hoo ya deep sea. I served on the Kittiwake and decommissioned her. She was a good ship. As a retired Navy diver I am glad to see she lives on.

I hope the Cayman Islands paid us (Americans ) for this.

I am glad to see that someone knows how to properly sink a ship that will attract both divers and snorkelers. In Florida, they have sank two ships in the past several years; the Oriskiny in Pensacola and the Spiegel Grove in the Florida Keys, and both were sank so deep that sport divers can't safely dive either.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.