The USS Kittiwake, a de-commissioned naval ship, was sunk January 5th, 2011 at 2:34 PM on the North end of Grand Cayman’s world famous Seven Mile Beach, providing underwater enthusiasts of all skill levels with a new year-round diving destination that is both easy to access and a thrill to explore.
She was built in 1945 and is the first US military vessel purposely sunk in foreign waters. She served as a submarine rescue ship in the US Navy during World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was decommissioned in 1994. She supposedly recovered the "Black Box" from NASA's 1985 Challenger explosion.
The Kittiwake is 251 feet long, 44 feet on her beam, and drafted 19 feet fully loaded. Her light displacement was 1704 tons and full displacement was 2193 tons. After removal of much of the equipment and steel on board, her displacement was around 1800 tons of steel for sinking.
She is a very solid steel hull/steel superstructure that had 18 bulkheads, a single screw propeller made of solid brass that is still on board, and had a complement, while in active duty, of 10 Officers and 98 enlisted service personnel. Her armament was removed before export from the USA.
In October of 2017, Hurricane Nate, which was 200 miles away from Grand Cayman, broke the huge anchor chains that held the USS Kittiwake upright in the sand, The wave action moved the Kittiwake closer to the wall and pushed her over on her port side, creating a whole new dive aspect.
Traveling through her passages at this new angle can be a bit confusing. There are still numerous exits and holes that the sunlight penetrates. New areas are now trapping the divers bubbles while new algae and corals will take over the old air pockets.
She makes for a great dive. The wheel at the helm still turns and several large Cubera snappers and schools of Horse Eyed Jack still patrol her decks. Flashlights are included in the price so you can look deep into the cracks and crevices for the little critters that reside there.
Join Cayman University Divers on this amazing wreck for a guided, narrated tour through her decks.
It's like being on the Discovery Channel.