This professional cave diver treks through the remote Canadian Territory of Nunavut to scuba dive with the greatest predator in the Arctic. Given its proximity to the surface, the Kittiwake makes a great snorkel site too. USS Kittiwake The USS Kittiwake is a great scuba diving site that has now been on the reef for over eight years. It's pretty amazing. Unique animal encounters, practical tips and Florida diving dominated Scuba Diving magazine’s most popular stories of 2020. Scuba Diving may receive financial compensation for products purchased through this site. Barracuda, schools of horse-eye jacks, turtles and grouper also hang around the site. It’s also a beautiful ship, with a classic profile. It’s relatively shallow depth of We generally dive the Kittiwake as the second dive of our two tank trip. Kittiwake, Grand Cayman Swim like the fish in and out of all five decks of this former 1945-1994 era U.S. Navy submarine rescue vessel. For only US $565 a guest can enjoy 5 days of Visit www.kittiwakecayman.com for more information. Tips from seasoned traveler Terry Ward about finding reliable COVID travel information and planning a post-shut down trip to Hawaii. Open-water divers are limited to the first three decks, but those with advanced certifications — such as a rescue diver or wreck-diver — can fully explore all five decks. After 49 years of service, Kittiwake was decommissioned in 1994 and mothballed to Norfolk, Virgina. Large holes were cut in its hull to create simple swim-throughs. Kittiwake was impacted by Tropical Storm Nate in October 2017. The ship is ideal for first time wreck explorers: Purpose sunk off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach in 2011, the 76.5m long Kittiwake was stripped clean of hazards before sinking. At one point the entire 2,200-ton ship was dry-docked to replace 32 potentially PCB-laden rubber gaskets — the operation cost the project an additional $40,000. With its impressive upright resting position, the Kittiwake was initially a one-of-a-kind wreck due to its shallow depth and extremely accessible passageways However, when Tropical Storm, and soon-to-be Hurricane, Nate began churning a few hundred miles southwest of Grand Cayman, large swells and high winds arrived at the west side of the island where the Kittiwake sits. The USS Kittiwake is one of the best-known wreck dives in the Caribbean, if not the world. Divers witness a life and death melee in the waters of Monterey during the annual squid mating aggregation. In some instances, the ship would act as a running target or recover practice torpedoes and mines. Many of its doors, hatches, bulkheads and even some floors were removed in preparation for the sinking. As part of the agreement with MARAD, the ship needed to be cleaned of any potential environmental hazards prior to sinking. What is a PADI Rescue Diver Certification. The Kittiwake attracts an abundance of marine life, including schools of tropical fish, sea turtles, eagle rays, the resident barracuda, groupers and much more! Dive site … Many of the Kittiwake’s exploits are still classified, but there are some tales that have come to light about ASR-13 — such as these record-record breaking exploits listed by the crew in All Hands, the magazine of the United States Navy. One diver regains his stride in the beloved waters of California's Monterey and Carmel Bays. With proper scuba diving training , you can explore all five decks of the Kittiwake. Kittiwake's location is shallow and close to shore, making it very accessible for scuba diving, snorkeling and freediving. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The 251-foot, 2,200-ton ship was launched on July 10, 1945, and was decommissioned September 30, 1994. There are several operators who can organise trips to dive or snorkel the Kittiwake. Sitting in just 60ft of water, the Kittiwake shipwreck is one of Cayman’s most impressive dive sites. This is one of the easiest, clearest wreck dives you will ever see. A nice opportunity to shoot on a Nikon instead of my usual Go Pro! Divers can visit the USS Kittiwake all year round, but may want to avoid the hurricane season (June through October). Coco Fest at Pedro St James, Grand Cayman, Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival, Grand Cayman, Explore Cayman is written and updated by locals and helps you find the very latest and best activities and things to do in the Cayman Islands. I did two fantastic dives on the Kittiwake wreck, Grand Cayman during the annual Focus... Toggle navigation Mandatory Requirements - Dive Masters, Snorkel Guides & Vessels A map of the Kittiwake ship wreck … By the time the ship was ready and the location chosen, hurricane season had begun. Garden eels make themselves at home in the sands surrounding the ship, which attracts southern stingrays and eagle rays. The CITA got the title for the Kittiwake in August, 2009. After being sunk in 2011, Kittiwake's quickly became a popular site for scuba divers off all skill levels. To save money MARAD has devised an alternative method to remove ships from its ever-growing collection. The Kittiwake currently rests is Grand Cayman. The following is an overview of the dive along with some history and information regarding the ship. Kittiwake Sites in Cayman, Kittiwake Wreck Dive The Kittiwake is situated in marine park that is protected under law in Cayman, with no touching or taking of anything, no gloves allowed and no fishing allowed on the wreck/Kittiwake site. its panels removed after being damaged by a storm, 10 Wrecks To Add To Your Scuba Diving Bucket List, Diving Monterey Bay’s Squid Mating and Death Frenzy, Where to Get Reliable COVID Travel Info, According to a Travel Expert. This was the easy part, as there would be a number of hurdles and delays on the path toward sinking the ship. Another challenge was selecting the wreck’s final resting place. 3. Resting in 60 feet (18 m) of water, the wreck was sunk in the only place on the leeward side of the island where depth Once used as an old submarine rescue The iconic wheel house had its panels removed after being damaged by a storm in early 2017. Map location, dive site tags, reviews, pictures, & weather. Kittiwake Dive Site in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Of course, its rescues weren’t limited to submarines. Its convenient location, just off Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, and shallow depths make it a popular site among scuba divers as well as snorkelers and freedivers. Second, instead of running aground or sinking underway, the Kittiwake was a purpose sunk artificial reef for divers. As there is a significant amount of boat and jet ski traffic around the Kittiwake site, swiming from shore is prohibited. And that Australia's pink manta ray is awesome. It would wait quietly for eight years, before being called to another kind of service. Depth: Less than 20m, multi-level wreck Another one of the well-known wrecks, the USS Kittiwake has exceptional water visibility, making it a perfect place for new wreck divers. If you don't already have the training, consider taking a course while scuba diving in Grand Cayman — Kittiwake makes an excellent training ground. “She was a ship that served divers all of her life,” Easterbrook told CNN. Snorkellers also enjoy visits to the Kittiwake, as the stack lies just 15ft from the surface, allowing them to see straight down to the bottom of the hull and into the engine room. Being this Copyright © 2021 Scuba Diving. In the end, they decided to sink Kittiwake only 800 yards off Seven Mile Beach. Divers exploring the Kittiwake will find a lot to love. All Rights Reserved. They will donate these derelict vessels to be used as artificial reefs to any state or county that can prove they will properly clean and responsibly tow and sink the ship at an approved site. Scuba divers often encounter large marine life such as sea turtles, grouper, stingrays and barracuda while visiting the Kittiwake. Need To Know: Kittiwake is considered a private park and requires an admission fee to visit, which must be with a licensed operator. It was too risky to tow the ship from Virginia, so the team had to wait for clearer weather. One of Kittiwake’s best-known stories came after the space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. By submitting above, you agree to Scuba Diving's privacy policy. Dive into the history of Grand Cayman's Kittiwake, and learn how this WWII ship became a world-renowned scuba diving destination. This is the latest addition to Grand Cayman’s arsenal of excellent wreck dive sites. The Kittiwake is an impressive wreck dive located just off the ‘Public Beach West Bay Dock’ at the north end of Seven Mile Beach. With easy access along the length of the wreck, it’s possible to head Furthermore, I will review what you can expect to find on the wreck. Divers can discover the crew’s quarters, the recompression chamber, ammunition lockers and even the heads (bathrooms) – complete with mirrors. A taste of what was to come.”, Renowned underwater explorer, Jill Heinerth trades caves for a chance to swim with polar bears in the Arctic. Wreck of the Kittiwake Photo Credit: Julie Corsetti Sitting at a depth of 62ft in clear Caribbean waters, the Ex-USS Kittiwake is a former submarine rescue vessel that served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1994. Keel is at 60 feet, viability is typical Cayman 50-100 feet. The Kittiwake also set a world record for the deepest submarine-rescue exercise, taking an officer and four others to a depth of 705 feet on September 13, 1959. The first involved environmental regulations, which needed to meet the requirements of multiple government agencies including the Cabinet level in Cayman, the United States Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency. Experienced snorkellers can even try free diving down to take the wheel in the wheel house. Scuba divers can still pose at the captain’s wheel, although they may feel more like they are driving the world’s largest convertible. Many products featured on this site were editorially chosen. But what made it the obvious choice for Easterbrook was its history. The 2020 edition of the Explore Cayman magazine is a 172 page full colour magazine. Depth: The wreck sits at 60 feet, and the highest point sits only 15 feet under the surface. In September 2017, Hurricane Nate passed the island by over 350 miles. Earlier that year, Grand Cayman welcomed the soon-to-be world-famous dive site, the ex-USS Kittiwake. One notable example was when Kittiwake assisted the USS George Washington during the first successful firing of a Polaris missile from an underwater submarine on July 20, 1960, off Cape Canaveral, Florida. Plus: What divers should expect next time they plan a trip to Hawaii. Because Kittiwake was exported from the United States, it also had to adhere to the Toxic Substances Control Act, Easterbrook explained in an interview with Alert Diver. She is 77 meters long and will keep you well entertained with 5 decks, 2 bridges, a navigation room and a … The vessel sits in shallow water, allowing plenty of bottom time to take in the sights — highlights include the mess hall, the massive propellers and towering smoke stack, two recompression chambers and the head complete with an intact mirror. Wreck of The Gamma The wreck was left mostly undamaged, but now sits at a different angle. The 47-foot-tall (14-meter) ship is at a depth of 62 feet (19 meters), so the top deck is close to the Caribbean Sea’s surface, … To visit the Kittiwake your must use a CITA licensed dive/snorkel operator. This shallow depth makes Kittiwake popular with snorkelers and freedivers as well as scuba divers. Recycling an oil rig should be easy. This Oil Rig is in a Sanctuary. I just dove there around Christmas. Kittiwake, Grand Cayman Great for: wreck rookies One of the most popular and accessible wreck dives around the world, the 76.6m long Kittiwake was purpose sunk off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach just a few years Environmental impact studies were done in order to protect Grand Cayman’s existing underwater environment — after all, what would be the point of creating an artificial reef if it were to destroy a natural one? These substances were commonly used in ships built during World War II so the process of removing all of the paint and wires from the five-deck Kittiwake was a lengthy one. While stationed off Key West, Florida, in 1963, Kittiwake picked up 12 Cuban refugees from the Jose Maria Perez, three of them children, and carried them safely to Key West. The Kittiwake now sits in 75’ of water with the shallowest part of the wreck just 27’ below the surface. Macro life such as peppermint shrimp, arrowhead crabs, fire worms and banded coral shrimp can be found all over the wreck. Stakeholders also considered what location would be best for dive operators. But Kittiwake is more than just a shipwreck, it’s an artificial reef, and the marine life here can be just as much of a draw for divers. But it was a fun dive and a max depth of about 65 ft. so very “So it seemed the appropriate ship.”. The dive site has a depth of 20 meters (65 feet) and the water temperatures is usually around 27 degrees Centigrade (80 degrees Fahrenheit) year-round. The Kittiwake is the final site in the Dive 365 initiative, an effort that has established 365 dive sites around the Cayman Islands to offer a new diving experience for every day of the year. Sign up for Scuba Diving’s weekly email and never miss another story. Kittiwake also helped during salvage and rescue operations, such as in 1949, when it provided divers and equipment during an operation to free the Missouri (BB-63) after it had become grounded off Thimble Shores, Virginia. Let’s dive deeper into the history of this iconic shipwreck. The Kittiwake is one of Grand Cayman's great new wrecks, having been sunk 6 years ago in shallow Cayman waters and in 2017 rolled deeper and onto its side during storm Nate. While being prepped for sinking, Kittiwake was made more accessible to scuba divers by cutting large holes in its hull and removing doors, hatches, bulkheads and other obstructions. This expensive and time-consuming process requires cleaning the ships of any and all environmental contaminants. When the Cayman Islands decided to add a shipwreck to its world-class scuba diving they reached out to the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) for a vessel. Kittiwake Shipwreck & Artificial Reef: Kittiwake Wreck Dive - See 970 traveler reviews, 314 candid photos, and great deals for West Bay, Grand Cayman, at Tripadvisor. With such perfect conditions, she’s an ideal location for snorkelers, people diving for the first time and of course those that are fully certified. Stay close to the marker buoys while snorkeling, if you plan to dive to get close to the wreck, carry a high visibility swim buoy. It's great for people who aren't too comfortable with penetration diving (me) because the openings are really large. We were extremely lucky this hurricane season as none of the named storms hit our beautiful island. Grand Cayman dive operators had to wait three more days to open their new present while the gear used to tow the ship more than 1,250 miles was removed. This fully penetrable wreck was sunk by divers for divers and is accessible to all levels of certified diver. The deco chambers on the boat are worth the dive alone. The Kittiwake is unique for a few reasons. Sitting at a depth of 62ft in clear Caribbean waters, the Ex-USS Kittiwake is a former submarine rescue vessel that served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1994. . It is one of the Caribbean’s best-known and beloved wrecks — the Kittiwake.On January 5, 2011, the 251-foot-long ship was sunk in 60 feet of water near the Sand Chute dive site, close to Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. Clyde M. Prickett set a new open-water deep-diving record for the Navy while serving aboard Kittiwake. The USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, rests on a sandy bottom off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. It is against the law to touch or remove anything within the Marine Park; no gloves can be worn and fishing is prohibited. Kittiwake wreck diving in Grand Cayman Wreck diving offers the opportunity to explore the modified wreckage of the USS Kittiwake, a salvage and rescue vessel that was operational for over 50 years. You will receive a wristband (snorkellers) or medallion (divers) as a keepsake souvenir, which must be worn while exploring the Kittiwake. A dive aficionado rediscovers a love of California diving when COVID restrictions beach him without warning. There would be minimal impact on the white sandy bottom, and the proximity to shore and shallow depth would allow easier access to visitors. The Kittiwake is a Marine Park owned by CITA (Cayman Islands Tourist Association). Copyright © 2021 Acorn Publishing Company. The Kittiwake was constructed with high-quality steel, which would hold up to the rigors of life on the seafloor. This is probably the only time you'll want to visit a recompression chamber during a scuba diving vacation. The Kittiwake is situated in marine park that is protected under law in Cayman, with no touching or taking of anything, no gloves allowed and no fishing allowed on the wreck/Kittiwake site. The Kittiwake has a max depth of 65 ft deep with the top of the wreck in around 15ft. But finally, on January 5, 2011 — a decade after the CITA first dreamed of adding a new wreck — the Kittiwake finally sank upright beneath the waves off the coast of Grand Cayman and a new artificial reef was born. Cayman Turtle Divers offers dives to the USS Kittiwake seven days a week. In addition to being made environmentally friendly, Kittiwake was also made more dive-friendly. In 2011, she was scuttled off Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman to create a spectacular wreck dive that now attracts around 20,000 divers and snorkellers a year. It didn’t take her long. The magnificent ship is 251ft long, 47ft tall and has five decks to explore. The USS Kittiwake is a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship that served as an Auxiliary Submarine Rescue vessel (ASR-13) with the 6th Submarine Squadron, according to the ship database site hullnumber.com. When it was time to decommission High Island 389A, the nation’s only oil rig in a NOAA sanctuary, regulators strove to balance a diving attraction with environmental…. Wreck Dive - A Complete Tour of the USS Kittiwake Wreck in the Grand Cayman's - Duration: 29:00. All rights reserved. The ship is situated in a Marine Park, which is a protected area that was set up to keep Cayman’s marine life and coral healthy. Gain the skills to get you and your buddies safely through an emergency. The Explore Cayman app is the #1 app for the Cayman Islands and can be downloaded for free. A Kittiwake wreck dive is perfect for divers of all skill levels to enjoy. The Department of Defense and the United States Coast Guard undertook a massive search for the space shuttle’s black box. […] Kittiwake accompanied submarines during sea trials and maneuvers where its crew would monitor dive operations and practice underwater-rescue procedures. Our most-read stories show you didn’t let the pandemic keep you from growing as a diver. The Most Popular Scuba Diving Stories of 2020, The Perfect Central California Dives to End a COVID Dry Spell. Visibility: Viz upwards of 100 feet is normal in Cayman. First, the Kittiwake is Grand Cayman's biggest ship wreck at 251' long. Is it Better Removed or Made into a Reef? U.S.S. The Kittiwake also set a world record for the deepest submarine-rescue exercise, taking an officer and four others to a depth of 705 feet on September 13, 1959. scubadiving.com is part of PADI Media, a division of PADI Worldwide. Take A Tour Now serving as an artificial reef, the top of the ship reaches roughly 25ft and hits the sand at 65ft. At 251ft, Kittiwake is the largest wreck dive in the Caymans. It was the Kittiwake and her crew who eventually recovered the Challenger’s black box from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Cost for scuba diving is $10 per visit and $5 for snorkeling — you can also get an annual pass for $31.15 or lifetime pass for $250. “We observed their final haggard moments. The average depth is 20-30 ft/6-9 m. Pay attention to the boat traffic in the area. Temperature: Temps range from high 70Fs in winter to low- to mid-80Fs in the summer. On April 21, 1949, in Panama Bay he descended to a record-breaking depth of 501 feet. TOW: December 17, 2010, the KITTIWAKE started her tow to Grand Cayman in a snow and ice storm; a tow that weathered rough winter seas for the better part of her 9 day journey, … near the Sand Chute dive site, close to Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. On April 21, 1949, in Panama Bay he descended to a record-breaking depth of 501 feet. Wrecks You Can Dive To If All You Have Is Your Open Water Cert Diving has the ability to unlock portals to the past that we didn't even realize were sitting right below the ocean's surface, and these are the best. Even with all the legal, environmental and logistic considerations behind it, Kittiwake still faced delays on its way to the seafloor. Here’s why it’s not. Underwater Wreck of the USS Kittiwake USS Kittiwake Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Depth: 5 – 19m Sunk as an artificial reef in 2011, the USS Kittiwake is a perennial favorite amongst warm water divers in the Later that same year Tropical Storm Nate snapped Kittiwake's anchor chains and pushed the wreck onto its port side. She is easily accessible and sits upright in 62 … According to a source in NASA Red Sail Sports’ Wreck Anniversary Package invites customers to experience the Kittiwake with great discounts and extras that only the island’s premier resort operator can offer. New Zealand is home to diverse dive sites, spectacular coastlines and pristine marine reserves. The Kittiwake wreck now lays on her side. While earning PADI Rescue Diver certification, you will learn how to handle a variety of dive emergencies, making you a more confident diver and a better buddy. MARAD gave the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) the green light — it would be their first ship donation to a foreign government — and Nancy Easterbrook, founder of Cayman’s Divetech and the project manager of this undertaking, came to pick out the perfect wreck. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera to capture some unusual shots! All Staff supervising Free Divers must be capable of free diving to the maximum depth of the dive plan. This U.S. law mandates that any ship donated for the purpose of becoming an artificial reef must be clean of hazardous materials such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and lead-based paint. A PADI Worldwide Company. MARAD is responsible for keeping decommissioned government ships afloat until they can be properly disposed of — ships like Kittiwake. Their luck finally turned and the Kittiwake departed on its final voyage December 17, 2010, and arrived in Georgetown Harbor on Christmas Day. During its 49 years of service the ship was deployed throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The KITTIWAKE is possibly the 'cleanest' wreck even to be sunk as an artificial reef. To continue this preservation effort, a Marine Park fee is charged and included in your diver operators’ fee to you. The Kittiwake was indeed on the job and did assist with recovery work but it was actually one of the Challenger’s Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) that she recovered from a depth of 177 feet (54m). A Divetech representative explained that the maximum depth if you are on the sand outside the wreck is 70 ft but the majority of the dive is at 50 ft, which is … Colour magazine Staff supervising free divers must be capable of free diving to the surface the... From Virginia, so the team had to wait for clearer weather wreck even to be as... Information regarding the ship, rests on a sandy bottom off Grand Cayman s! Tourist Association ) financial compensation for products purchased through kittiwake wreck depth site ; no gloves can be properly of. Sea trials and maneuvers where its crew would monitor dive operations and practice underwater-rescue procedures great site... During the annual squid kittiwake wreck depth aggregation my usual Go Pro tall and has decks., in Panama Bay he descended to a record-breaking depth of the easiest, wreck! Ship reaches roughly 25ft and hits the sand at 65ft was too risky to tow the ship was on! Wwii ship became a popular site for scuba Diving’s weekly email and never miss another.! Arrowhead crabs, fire worms and banded coral shrimp can be found over! Point sits only 15 feet under the surface was sunk by divers for divers of all levels. 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Virginia, so the team had to wait for clearer weather visibility: Viz upwards of 100 feet normal! Too comfortable with penetration diving ( me ) because the openings are really large that same year Storm... Ready and the location chosen, hurricane season ( June through October ) or sinking underway, the site...