Ship sunk to create artificial reef
Updated on 01 October 2008
The Cayman Islands will scuttle a decommissioned US Navy ship to create an underwater attraction.
Ownership of the USS Kittiwake, a 2,077-tonne submarine rescue ship, would be transferred from the US Maritime Administration to the government of the British dependency as early as next month, project manager Nancy Easterbrook said.
Toxic materials must first be removed by contractors from the vessel built in 1945, before the ship is sunk next year in the Caribbean Sea as an artificial reef.
It has been anchored for years among rusting hulks of the James River Reserve Fleet, commonly known as the "Ghost Fleet", in Fort Eustis, Virginia.
The 251ft Kittiwake should attract large schools of fish to deserted cabins and halls, according to Charles Clifford, the islands' minister of tourism.
"Our seafaring heritage, our strong interest in presenting varied tourism offerings and our belief in preserving the environment, all played a major role in the decision to acquire this," he said.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Cayman Islands, an off-shore banking and tax haven, is already well known among divers around the world.
In 1996, the Caribbean territory sunk a 330ft Russian destroyer in 60ft of water off Cayman Brac.
The wreck, now decorated with a thick coating of sponges and corals, has attracted an assortment of tourists and fish.
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