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Kittiwake ‘a brand new wreck’ after Nate encounter

One of Cayman’s most popular dive sites will never be the same after tropical storm Nate.

On Sunday (8 October,) divers discovered the purpose-sunk Kittiwake shipwreck had broken free of its moorings and was now resting on its port side.

“This is not by any means the end of the Kittiwake, this is just another chapter in her story, and for me it’s a very exciting one,” said Jason Washington of iDive Cayman.

What’s old is new again. That’s one attitude taken by those in Cayman’s diving community. Six years after the ex-USS Kittiwake was sunk as an artificial reef and diving attraction along Grand Cayman’s west side, Mother Nature has decided it was time to give the shipwreck new surroundings.

“Nate beat it and battered it, basically that southerly swell went across her beam and rocked her back-and-forth until she broke her anchor in, and then she leaned over just nearly against the reef,” said Mr. Washington.

He told Cayman 27 that when he heard reports the Kittiwake had been damaged during tropical storm Nate, he had to see for himself.

“The wreck itself was damaged pretty heavily,” said Mr. Washington.

He told Cayman 27 the ship had broken free of its chains and slid closer to a neighbouring dive site called Sand Chute, and possibly damaging coral.

“She had leaned over to her port side and, she looked like she was about a foot or two feet from the actual edge of the interior reef at sand chute, so she moved quite a bit,” he explained.

Mr. Washington said while many are surprised that a 251 foot vessel could be so easily moved around underwater, it’s not the first time the Kittiwake has been pushed around in a storm.

“Back in 2011 hurricane Rina basically took the same path as Nate. Hurricane Rina was a category two storm when she passed us, and that hurricane actually moved the Kittiwake, the newly sunk Kittiwake about 60 feet closer to the deep wall.”

Though the Kittiwake will never be the same, Mr. Washington said that’s not necessarily a bad thing for dive enthusiasts both locally and the world over.

“For me, as an underwater photographer, videographer, I am stoked,” said Mr. Washington. “Now I have a new angles to shoot this wreck.  I’ve got new lighting. The new possibilities of the new shots for the Kittiwake for an underwater photographer are endless. So in a way, this is a little bit of a godsend for us, this is a new spin on an old wreck. It’s like getting a brand new wreck,” said Mr. Washington.




About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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