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Cayman Islands celebrations mark first anniversary of the Kittiwake sinking

(DiverWire) A three-day celebration was held this week on Grand Cayman to celebrate the first anniversary of the sinking of the USS Kittiwake. The vessel was sunk January 5, 2011 in 65 feet of water, off the coast of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach in order to create a new dive site and habitat for marine life.

The celebrations kicked off with a recognition ceremony at the Governor’s Residence, to acknowledge those who were most instrumental in the seven-year process leading up to the sinking of the Kittiwake. Among the attendees were His Excellency, the Governor, Duncan Taylor; Shomari Scott, acting Director of Tourism, Harry Lali, President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association; and Nancy Easterbrook, owner of island dive operation, Divetech, and Project Manager of the Kittiwake project.

The next day, local sponsors Islands Company hosted an event to present the Oris Watches’ Kittiwake Limited Edition ProDiver watch, 500 of which were created to honor the Kittiwake. The event also featured a silent auction, which offered attendees the opportunity to bid for unique artifacts from the ship.

Finally, on January 6th, former Kittiwake crewmember and retired U.S. sailor, Jon Glatstein who attended the sinking, returned to the Cayman Islands to share stories from his days aboard the ship. The ex-submarine rescue vessel was originally commissioned as a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship in the United States Navy during World War II.

At its sinking, the Kittiwake represented the single most significant occurrence in Cayman’s dive industry for a decade, and marked the first time that a US MARAD (United States Maritime Administration) ship was donated to a foreign country for the creation of an artificial reef to preserve the marine environment. Since landing on the bottom of the ocean, the 251-foot long, 2200 ton, five-deck vessel has attracted more than 20,000 divers and snorkelers, which is more than double the anticipated number of visitors for the first year.

According to the Hon. Premier McKeeva Bush, “much was expected of the Kittiwake when the Cayman Islands Government agreed all those years ago, to collaborate with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) and the United States Maritime Administration to make the investment to bring her to  the Cayman Islands. I am happy to state that she has exceeded our expectations.”

For more information about the Kittiwake wreck and its first anniversary celebrations, please visit www.kittiwakecayman.com.

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