Sunday, 29 May 2011

Down she went. Divers and snorkelers right behind


By Stephen Weir, Diver Magazine

For the dive industry Santa Claus rode into Grand Cayman on December 25th, not in a sleigh but on board a barely floating 251 ft long WW2 US warship pulled by an ocean going tug.
After seven years of planning, the retired USS Kittiwake was scuttled a few days after arriving at Grand Cayman Island. Live on the Internet, the Submarine Rescue vessel (ASR-13) was sunk upright in the sand just north of the famous Seven Mile Beach.
The ship was scuttled to take pressure off the reefs of one of the world’s most popular island dive destination. Two months after she went down, the ship (donated by the US Navy) has begun to attract divers and snorkelers in large numbers.
“I dived the wreck one month after her sinking,” said Suzy Marfleet, diver concierge with the Reef – a Seven Mile Beach dive operation. “ I have had a very positive response (from the divers she has escorted onto the new wreck). Many have said that it is interesting to see the wreck now, with no coral growth, and they look forward to seeing the change over the years, at the growth that will occur. The shallow depth makes it fun to dive, and most operators are giving 1 hour dive times.’
When the Cayman Islands really kicked off the worldwide interest in diving artificial reefs with the 1998 sinking of a Russian missile frigate off Cayman Brac (with Diver Magazine columnist Jean-Michel Cousteau on deck as she went down) there weren’t many diveable warships in the world.  Since then everything from an aircraft carrier to destroyers have been put down on the bottom to attract scuba tourists. There are now over 100 diveable scuttled ships off the coast of Miami, Florida alone!
What makes the Kittiwake different is that she is in shallow water – the deepest point is 57ft (19 metres).  Tourists can explore the ship on scuba or simply snorkel the upper levels.“There are 5 decks on the 47 foot tall Kittiwake. Externally, the crow's nest, mast and large stern a-frame have been cut down and remounted to make her height suitable for Cayman waters,” wrote Canadian diving expert Nancy Easterbrook. Her company Divetech has been an integral part of the acquisition of the wreck, the towing of the ship from North Carolina and the eventual sinking of the Kittiwake.
“Night dives on the Kittiwake are allowed. However, all night dives will be guided/supervised regardless of the qualifications of the divers” she continued. Dive shops must be licensed to take snorkelers and divers to the new site.
Can snorkelers and divers enjoy the wreck at the same time? Many operators aren’t ready to find out. Upscale water sports operator Red Sail schedule separate snorkel and dive trips to the wreck at slightly different times to make sure the twain don’t meet.
“If you want a fun and interesting dive that gets a large amount of bottom time, then it’s a great dive. My favourite part is the shower room, which still has intact mirrors – have you ever looked at yourself underwater?” continued Marfleet. “In another area there is also a working lathe, that you can still turn  - obviously in time this will rust and seize up but for now it is a fun toy to play with.”
Although the ship was built in 1945 she has become a child of emerging technologies.  Not only is there an official website for her, (/ but, new underwater Kittiwake videos are being released onto the web weekly,
photo by Courtney Platt

Tale of the tape - information on the size and history of the wreck of the Kittiwake


Sidebar to Cayman sinking story by Stephen Weir

Tale of the tape
The World’s newest diveable artificial reef – this month

Ex-USS Kittiwake ASR 13 - Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue Ship ASR
Built by: Savannah Machinery and Foundry Co of Savannah, Georgia, USA
Keel Laid: 5th January 1945
Launched: 10th July 1945
Commissioned: 16th July 1945
Decommissioned: 30th September 1994
Displacement: 2290 TONS
Dimensions: 251 ft Length - 42 Ft Beam - 15 ft Draft
Machinery: Diesel Electric Propulsion - 1 Shaft - 3000 BHP for 15 Kts
Complement: 85 Officers and Sailors
See the Diver Magazine Feature Article:

Factoid information & Courtney Platt photograph  courtesy of Cayman Island Tourism

Where in the world are the new shipwrecks that we can dive?

For Divers: sunken warships of the new century – size matters

The Biggies:

Coast Guard cutter, Spar, sunk near Morehead City, North Carolina. 180ft long. 2004
HTMS Khram rocket landing ship,
(Formerly the USS LSM 469,) 203 ft 2003 at Pattaya, Thailand

HTMS Kut landing ship (formerly named "USS EXNO" (LSM 333) 203ft sunk off the coast of Thailand at Pattaya 2006.
HMNZS Wellington, New Zealand frigate. 340 ft. Sunk near the city of Wellington 2005
HMCS Nipigon, 366 ft Canadian destroyer sunk in the St Lawrence River near Rimouski 2003.
HMS Scylla. British Frigate 371 ft sunk in 2004 Cornwall, UK
Australian Guided Missile Destroyer City of Brisbane. 440 ft. Sunk for divers 2005 off the coast of Queensland
USS Vandenberg, US Air Force missile tracker
524-ft sunk off the Florida Keys 2009 (pictured below in Key West just before she was sank - photo from Key West Tourism Assocation).
Destroyer USS Arthur W Radford to be sunk near Cape May, New Jersey. 563 ft. spring 2011
USS Aircraft Carrier Oriskany, sunk near Pensacola Florida 925 ft. 2006 (pictured at top of page during her sinking - Google photo).

See the Diver Magazine story about the sinking of the Kittiwake by Stephen Weir

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Star Stalking In New Hampshire - Map Of Movie Locales

New Hampshire has a downloadable itinerary for starstruck visitors. See where the movies we love to watch were made.
Article in Spring Issue:  Maple Gazette
By Stephen Weir

The New Hampshire Division of Travel &; Tourism Development understands that many North Americans are fascinated by films made by Hollywood.  Not just the big name stars, but also, the locations of where memorable films and TV shows were made. The State has recently put together a downloadable six page Filmed in New Hampshire Itinerary.  
Get your motor running, Heading out the Highway. Look for Adventure! This colourful, interesting Itinerary takes film lovers on a giant road trip that begins in Keene with Robin Williams in his 1995 blockbuster fantasy movie Jumanji and ends in Claremont where the entire comedy Live Free or Die, was made.  
In all the Filmed In New Hampshire booklet takes visitors to 15 different sites. It also gives information on annual Film Festivals that will be of interest to visiting buffs.
Many filmmakers choose locations in New Hampshire because of the unique scenery the State offers.  Visitors will be surprised at what has been made here. The movies listed in the booklet include:

  • Jumanji. Starring Robin Williams. The 1995 Blockbuster Hit was partly filmed in Keene and Swanzey.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair.  A key scene in the Academy Award winning 1968 thriller was made in Salem.
  • Cider House Rules.  New England author and Oscar winner John Irving had the pleasure of seeing his Best Selling Cider House Rules, made into an equally successful movie in locations throughout New England including Hinsdale and Hampton Falls. 
  • On Golden Pond starred Katharine Hepburn, Henry and Jane Fonda. The 1981 classic was filmed in locations including the communities of SquamLake, Concord, and Meredith.
  • Disappearances (1986) starring Kris Kristofferson and Charlie McDermott has scenes that were filmed at Clark's Trading Post and throughout Lincoln.
Cutline (pictured above):  Actor Robin Williams is absorbed by the floor in the film Jumanji. Scenes from the movie were filmed in New Hampshire.