The Kittiwake is safe for divers.
That’s the word from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) after an extensive in-water assessment of the wreck. Now resting on its port side, in slightly deeper water, the Kittiwake has become a completely different experience.
The pool is open. One of Grand Cayman’s most popular diving attractions, the purpose sunk ex-USS Kittiwake has been deemed safe for divers.
“The structure of the Kittiwake is still just as sound as it was before it rolled onto its side, it is definitely stuck into its new spot, and it’s covered with a lot of sand where it’s in, it is definitely stable,” said Joanna Mikutowicz of DiveTech.
As the wreck’s maintenance contractor, DiveTech completed an assessment Monday.
“There are some exits that are now not accessible because they’re facing the sand, but there are no new holes that have been created,” said Ms. Mikutowicz.
The repositioned Kittiwake now sits in 70 to 75 feet of water at its deepest point. It’s upper reaches, now around 30 feet, are still ideal for snorkelers and divers of all abilities.
“There is plenty of stuff to see at 40 feet for anybody who brings out discover scuba divers or junior open water divers, they can still see a huge part of the shipwreck, so it’s definitely still suitable for all recreational divers,” she told Cayman 27.
Ms. Mikutowicz is advising dive professionals to take some time to get familiar with the new Kittiwake before guiding visitors.
“For me it was a little bit disorienting, just because I’m so used to the way the Kittiwake was, it’s just gonna take some getting used to, so I would have everybody give it a good once over before they go with guests,” said Ms. Mikutowicz.
She told Cayman 27 it appears the former submarine rescue vessel did make contact with the reef structure. She described the damage to living coral as minimal.
“It’s more like it has just hit what was once-upon-a-time reef, and now it’s just rock, now that rock has just been crumbled down onto the bottom,” she said.
While CITA and the Department of Environment work to determine what – if anything – can be done to minimise or mitigate future repositioning of the 251-foot dive attraction, divers the world over are eager to experience this brand new chapter in the Kittiwake story.
“It’s like a new shipwreck, that’s what I would consider it as, a completely new dive site, and I think it’s like a 10 out of 10,” said Ms. Mikutowicz.