Snorkel the USS Kittiwake

As of Saturday January 8th 2011  The USS Kittiwake in the Grand Cayman waters is available for diving and snorkeling!


Please see our schedule for the Kittiwake:

Full Day Snorkel Charter – on request

9:00AM – 4:00PM: Daily (Please check availability)

Price: US$2625 for exclusive private yacht charter/ Includes Marine Park fee and Kittiwake snorkeling wristbands.

Inclusion: Kittiwake snorkeling, snorkel gear/vests, wave-runner, water-skiing, wakeboarding, light snacks, water/soft drink beverages.

Departs: Camana Bay Crescent Dock

Reservations: (345) 938-2525 / email:

We  are one of the supporters of CITA member in bringing the Kittiwake to Cayman. The photos are of the clean up crew prior to the sinking.

Kittiwake Sinking – She Landed Straight Up!

The ex-USS Kittiwake was a Submarine Rescue vessel (ASR-13). She was part of the 6th Submarine squadron (SUBRON 6) home ported at the Destroyer-Submarine piers in Norfolk, VA.


She was built by Savannah Machine & Foundry Co. (Savanna, Georgia), awarded May 11, 1944 near the end of WWII, launched July 10, 1945 and commissioned July 18, 1946.

The Kittiwake had an illustrious service for over 54 years, being decommissioned September 30, 1994. After being laid up by the US Navy for 6 years, the Kittiwake was  transferred to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) in March of 2000. From 2000 – 2009, she resided at the James River Reserve Fleet in Fort Eustis, Virginia (Norfolk area).

MARAD issued an invitation to both US and International applicants to apply for the donation of a ship for the purposes of artificial reefing in 2004, and the Cayman Islands applied for a ship. The Cayman Islands was approved as the pilot project for the “donation of a ship from MARAD to a foreign Government for the purposes of artificial reefing”.

The Kittiwake was transferred from MARAD to the Cayman Islands Government in August 2009 and was cleaned and remediated in Norfolk, Virginia to become an artificial reef. This included substantial work including the removal of all hazardous materials (like pcb’s, asbestos, mercury, cabling, wires, oils, lubricants and a very long list). Additionally, all thin or loose materials that could break off during or soon after sinking were removed. The Kittiwake is possibly the ‘cleanest’ wreck even to be sunk as an artificial reef.


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 is 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 personal. Her armament was removed before export from the USA.


As you can see, the location for the Kittiwake marine park is at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, on the West or lee side of Grand Cayman at latitude 19 21.714’N and Longitude 081 24.073’W for her bow, just off of the Sand Chute Dive site. The bottom is flat and sandy. The Kittiwake rests 64 feet deep at the bottom and be only 15 feet from the surface, ideal for both divers and snorkelers.


You can snorkel overhead and see the main decks and topography of the ship plus take a look down the smoke stack that opens up straight down to the bottom of the hull and the engine rooms. There is no end of rooms to explore this wreck, that will soon enough become an artificial reef, enhancing the marine environment with new fishery stock and habitats for marine life.

The Kittiwake is situated in marine park that is protected under law in Cayman, with no touching or taking of anything, no gloves allowed and no fishing allowed on the wreck/Kittiwake site. It requires an entrance fee to visit from a licensed operator, with the fees going towards the ongoing maintenance and protection of the new artificial wreck/reef  The required entry fee is below:

– Scuba Divers = US$10.00 per visit / dive

– Snorkelers     = US$5.00 per visit / snorkel

Scuba Divers will be issued a tag to attach to their BCD or Regulator.  Snorkelers will be issued with a wrist band.

The funds collected are used for maintenance of the ship wreck, safety equipment and management of the attraction. A portion of the visitor fee is paid to an Environmental Contingency Fund.

Individuals who visit the attraction without paying the fee or are not wearing the Medallion / wristband will be reported as trespassing to the Cayman Islands Authorities.

To learn more about the USS Kittiwake, please visit their website

  • Did you know?

    • Cayman Luxury Charters will gladly arrange to have lunch catered on board from a top notch restaurant. We will stock the yacht to your specific food and beverage needs!

    Click Here To Book Now!