USS Kittiwake, The Cayman Islands and You!
Wreck diving is the ultimate adventure for SCUBA. The Caribbean is full of shipwrecks that are full of marine life that produces a prize underwater experience.
The USS Kittiwake is one of the best known wreck dives in the Caribbean, if not the world. Located just off of Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. It’s a shallow depth which makes is a great experience for SCUBA, snorkelers and as well as freedivers.
The USS Kittiwake was a 251ft, 2,200 ton Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue Ship with the 6th Submarine Squadron. The vessel was launched July 10, 1945 to assist the submarines after Water Island was decomissioned June 19, 1944.
The USS Kittiwake would accompany submarines during sea trials and maneuvers where its crew would monitor dive operations and practice underwater-rescue procedures. In some instances, the ship would act as a running target or recover practice torpedoes and mines.
The USS Kittiwake assisted the USS George Washington during the first successful firing of a Polaris missile from an underwater submarine on July 20, 1960, off Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The USS Kittiwake also helped during salvage and rescue operations, such as in 1949, when it provided divers and equipment during an operation to free the Missouri (BB-63) after it had become grounded off Thimble Shores, Virginia.
The USS Kittiwake’s rescues weren’t limited to submarines. While stationed off Key West, Florida, in 1963, Kittiwake picked up 12 Cuban refugees from the Jose Maria Perez, three of them children, and carried them safely to Key West.
The USS Kittiwake was decommissioned in 1994. It was then donated to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association to be sunk 800 yards off Seven Mile Beach. January 5, 2011, the USS Kittiwake went to her final resting place off the coast of the Grand Cayman to be reborn as an artificial reef.
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