Dive Team: Holly Miller, Dave Miller Dive Date: December 16, 2015
This was a great shipwreck dive in shallow water with great visibility.
HISTORY: The Kittiwake is a 251 foot long, 44 foot beam, five deck, decommissioned US Navy Submarine Rescue Ship. The 2,200 ton ship launched in July of 1945, it was the first US military vessel to be acquired by a foreign country. It was used by the US Navy during World War II, Korea and Vietnam to rescue sailors from downed submarines. The ship assisted the USS Washington during the the first successful firing of a Polaris missile from an underground sub in July of 1960 off the Florida coast. It was decommissioned in 1994. It was acquired by Cayman Islands Government in 2009 and then sunk as an artificial reef in 2011. The ship rests in 64 feet of water on a flat and sandy bottom.
THE DIVE: Beautiful day, water was a warm 84 degrees with excellent visibility. The crow’s nest and mast is only 15 feet below the surface. The entire ship was easily visible once you submerged in the water. Holly was videotaping the dive on the GoPro. I had trouble equalizing at first. We swam through several decks, the engine and propulsion rooms, crew’s quarters, hospital station & mess hall. The massive propellers and towering smoke stack are still intact. On the top deck we swam through the bridges, radio and navigation rooms. You can pose at the wheel and feel like you were driving the ship. We saw shrimp, crabs and small fish inside the ship. Barracuda and grouper hung around the outside of the ship. The dive lasted 52 minutes. Holly has great video of the dive.
INTERESTING HISTORICAL NOTE: One of the Kittiwake’s famous missions is that in 1986 the ship recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic, the black box from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.