Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Kittiwake - Grand Cayman's Newest Shipwreck - Soon Come
My good friend Bill Harrigan just went to visit the KITTIWAKE while she was being cleaned and prepared for sinking in a shipyard in Virginia. Bill is an old hand at seeing military vessels being prepared to sink as artificial reefs as he was the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary Manager when the USCGC BIBB and DUANE were sunk, and he went to the James River Fleet and personally hand-picked the SPIEGEL GROVE as the first step in acquiring the vessel for the Key Largo dive community. Below are his thoughts relative to the KITTWAKE project:
Wreck divers get ready, the USS Kittiwake is coming to Cayman!
For more details, see www.kittiwakecayman.com
In a noisy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, a small army of workers is cutting, grinding, hauling and cleaning as the ship enters the final weeks of preparation before being towed to Grand Cayman. Tim Mullane and Sean Bowman from American Marine Group showed me the ship recently, and it was apparent this is going to be a great dive for many reasons.
First of all, the site for the sinking is superb – shallow, clear and close to the beach. Second, the ship is an excellent choice – it’s heavily built so it will last underwater and it has lots of structures and compartments. Third, the clean-up has been extremely thorough. According to Tim, the goal is “not even a sheen when she goes down.” Fourth, the preparation for diver access has been equally painstaking. Thousands of brackets have been ground off flush to prevent snagging and huge openings have been cut through the ship to allow complete access fore and aft and from keel to stack. Instead of simply gutting the ship, the interesting items such as engine blocks, winches, boilers, cranes and compressors have been removed, cleaned and re-installed. On the bridge you won’t just find a sanitized compartment, you’ll see the radar housings, the helm and other equipment. Below, you’ll find the recompression chambers – hatches welded open – and vast banks of air tanks.
A lot of people have put a lot of work and poured a lot money into this project, but the result is going to be spectacular!
USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) Submarine Rescue Vessel:
Length 251 feet
Speed 16 knots
A tentative sink date for the KITTIWAKE is January 5, 2011.