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Famous Cayman Wreck Moved and Damaged by Hurricane Nate


The USS Kittiwake, lying on it's port side with the broken anchor chains (Photo: Jason Washington/iDive Global)

One of the Caribbean's most famous wrecks has been moved, pushed onto its side and damaged by the passing of Hurricane Nate.

The tropical storm, which had previously caused severe damage and 22 fatalities across Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua, struck Grand Cayman earlier this month, where the USS Kittiwake was sunk as an artificial reef in 2011.

The 251ft/76m former submarine rescue vessel is one of the foremost scuba diving attractions in the Cayman Islands, and with a depth of only 18m/60ft rising to 5m/15ft is popular with divers of all experience levels, as well as snorkellers.


The heaped sand shows how far the wreck was pushed, close to the adjacent Sand Chute (Photo: Jason Washington / iDive Global)

Hurricane Nate, downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the Cayman Islands, has broken the Kittiwake free of its anchor chains and the wreck, formerly sitting almost upright on the bottom, has been pushed over onto its port side, and now sits some 7m/20ft deeper than previously, perilously close to the edge of a nearby reef and drop-off known as the Sand Chute. The ship had already been pushed close to the reef during tropical storm Rina in 2011

Jason Washington, manager of iDive Global and co-owner of Ambassador Divers, a resident Cayman scuba instructor and photographer, posted pictures of the damaged ship on his blog after diving the wreck on 8 October.

Initial reports suggest that the wreck might be unsafe, however a press release from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), released on 10 October states that the dive site is open, but operators must have their staff dive the site first, without customers, to reorient themselves to the wrecks new depth and layout.'


The wreck as it stood almost upright before tropical storm Nate (Photo: Jason Washington / iDive Global)





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