Liveaboard Diving in USS Kittiwake

What to Expect on a Ex-USS Kittiwake Liveaboard

Liveaboards to the Ex-USS Kittiwake will take divers to one of the most sought-after dive sites in the Cayman Islands. Lying in shallow crystalline waters off Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach, the wreck of the Ex-USS Kittiwake - a former US submarine rescue ship is now a thriving artificial reef. Originally launched in 1945, the 77 m long chanticleer-class vessel provided support to the US Navy's submarine fleet when deployed in action or training. Throughout her 49 years of service, the USS Kittiwake assisted in several missions that took her across the Atlantic, Mediterranean and North Sea. She was decommissioned in 1994 and 14 years later acquired by the government of the Cayman Islands to feature as a new attraction for the country's dive tourism. In 2011, after careful preparation, she was scuttled (intentionally sank) in shallow waters off Grand Cayman Island, near Seven Mile Beach on the west wall. The 1,800 ton vessel now rests on soft white sand in waters less than 20 m deep, bathed in a haze of ambient sunlight, and supporting a wide diversity of marine life. Before her sinking, several holes and entry points were carefully cut into the ship's hull to allow for ease of entry, exit and navigation.

The ship's large spacious corridors coupled with the fantastic visibility make the Ex-USS Kittiwake the ideal wreck dive for any level of diver. Whether new to wreck diving or an avid enthusiast, you can choose to explore the perimeter and decks of the ship, or follow your guide inside the wreck to investigate the many rooms and nautical artefacts that remain, such as the recompression chamber, engine room, diving bell, propeller, ships helm and shaft alley to name but a few. Much of the upper deck of the ship is in waters less than 5 meters deep, making this wreck accessible to snorkelers as well as divers.

What you can see

Your Cayman Islands liveaboard will moor close to the Kittiwake wreck meaning a very short swim to reach the wreck itself underwater. Since being laid to rest on the sandy bottom of Grand Cayman's west wall, the USS Kittiwake has transformed into a dynamic marine environment bursting with life and colour. Sponges, corals and other macro life have colonised the ship's outer layer to form an artificial reef that attracts a great diversity fishlife; including large schools of horse-eyed jacks, Bermuda chubs, Blue-striped grunts, Tarpons, eagle rays and different species of sting rays. Seasonal schools of glittering silversides are also present, providing ample opportunities to capture stunning photos of these beautifully iridescent shoals twinkling in ambient rays of sunlight. Other marine life encounters include turtles, Caribbean reef sharks and even the occasional whale shark!

Within the wreck itself you will find a whole host of nautical artefacts to explore. The 47 ft high, 77 m long ship features 5 decks, 2 bridges and a navigation room. Internally you will find a never-ending layout of corridors, chambers, cabins and rooms to investigate; including the captain's quarters, medic station, engine room and even a barbers. Many of the Kittiwake's features designed specifically for divers such as the dive bell, recompression chamber and large A-frame structure at the stern, used for supporting submarines, can all be accessed with ease.

Getting to Ex-USS Kittiwake

Cayman Island liveaboard dive cruises that depart from the capital city George Town, located on Grand Cayman Island, are the best way to explore this exceptional dive site. Over the duration of 8 days and 7 nights you will sail to all three of the Cayman Islands, indulging in unlimited diving and exploring the best dive sites the Cayman Islands have to offer.

Many airlines from the USA and Canada offer direct flights into Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman. Also direct flights from London, UK are available with British Airways. Connecting flights are available with Cayman Airways from Miami.

USS Kittiwake Diving Reviews

  • 9.1 Superb
  • 11 Verified Reviews
  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Jason F
  • United States United States

Great, visibility was fantastic, one of favorite alltime dive

Diving USS Kittiwake in November on the Cayman Aggressor IV

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • David D
  • United States United States

The Kittiwake was a great dive. The ship is completely open so you can swim from one end to the other.

Diving USS Kittiwake in August on the Cayman Aggressor IV

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Anand P
  • United States United States

Incredible (viz was > 50ft). Was a great introductory wreck dive.

Diving USS Kittiwake in September on the Cayman Aggressor IV

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Craig S
  • United States United States

Excellant wreck to dive even for the novice wreck diver.

Diving USS Kittiwake in September on the Cayman Aggressor IV

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Cathie N
  • United States United States

this was a cool wreck and we got some great photos

Diving USS Kittiwake in July on the Cayman Aggressor IV

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Ovid M
  • Canada Canada

As far as diving goes this was the highlight of the trip Decent sized wreck (artificial reef) large cutouts and safe to dive.

Diving USS Kittiwake in March on the Cayman Aggressor IV