Ship Wrecks - Grand Cayman Caribbean treasure

SHIPWRECKS IN GRAND CAYMAN  a different kind of Caribbean treasure

The Cayman Islands are not only world famous for their diving spots, but also for the treasure of ship wrecks along and around the shores. Some can be reached by snorkelling your way to them, some require scuba diving to see them, but all are beautiful. Everyone loves a story of hidden treasure, and these shipwrecks reveal treasures of marine life that is not easily found anywhere else.

Shipwreck Kittiwake

THE KITTIWAKE

Submarine Rescue Ship - 2011

This is the latest ship to sink in Grand Cayman - on purpose! A genuine gem to be included into your dive vacation, this brave ship made it's last journey being towed to the islands through perilous weather and an ice storm.

She served valiantly between 1945 and 1994, with her most memorable duty being the diligent recovery of the Challenger Space Shuttle.

Now serving her last and most honourable duty she sits almost upright in just 64 feet of water, her five decks provide an artificial reef and marine habitat to an array of sea life. Squirrelfish, rare sponges, Goliath Groupers and urchins being just a few of the jewels in this treasure chest.

Internationally, this is one of the very few shipwrecks that is accessible to both snorkelers and scuba divers. 

This is designated to be a Marine Park under protection of the Cayman Islands law. No touching or taking of anything, no gloves allowed and no fishing (the only exception is the taking of Lionfish which is an invasive species). An entrance fee is charged and can be arranged with a licensed operator. Please do not swim to the shipwreck - there is a lot of boat / jet ski traffic around this site and you are at risk of being hurt in the water.

Oro Verde Grand Cayman

ORO VERDE

Foot Steel Cargo Vessel - 1980

Legend has it that this ship was owned by a Jamaican operator who found that a cargo of illicit vegetation from his native land made for better profit than perhaps the transport other crops. Lore tells it that he attempted to con his crew out of payment and met with a sad but unsurprising demise, after which, the crew imbibed the remaining "cargo" and navigated their way onto the reef in the North Sound.

In 1980, the Cayman Islands government, in conjunction with local dive operators, bought (and sunk for a marvellous reason) this vessel in approximately 50 meters of water off the west coast. The bow is still mostly intact with railings visible. For the quirky diver, there is also a bicycle "wreck" here which divers use to "ride" for fun photos. 

The Oro Verde has become home to a huge variety of sea creatures and stunning coral, and proves still to be one of the most popular shallow dives in Grand Cayman. A 300 pound Jewfish named "Sweet Lips" or "George" is one of the inhabitants that become named, with others being "Kermit' the six foot moray eel and "Puff", a four foot barracuda.

Kirk Pride shipwreck grand cayman

KIRK PRIDE

Cargo Vessel - 1976

A lot of hearts must have sunk with this ship after the valiant efforts to keep this lady afloat.

1976 found this ship docked in George Town with engine troubles. An unpleasant North-Easter was working itself up, and in an effort to prevent the boat being damaged by the dock, a decision to move the vessel into deeper waters was made.

The engines were started and the ship reversed. However, in order to engage the forward gear, the engines had to be turned off - and would not turn on again. Powerless and helpless, worsening weather saw her pushed into a reef where water started flooding in. It was then hoped that towing her into deeper water and fitting her with drainage pumps would buy time until calmer conditions prevailed and repairs could be made. But overnight, the winds changed direction - she was swung over the Cayman wall (a 3000 foot drop), the drainage pumps become overwhelmed and by 9:30am on January 9, the Caribbean Sea had claimed her.

Her resting spot, wedged almost upright on two huge pinnacles in 800 feet of water, was discovered in 1985. Using submersibles, National Geographic managed to capture astounding photos of the wreck in 1988.

Definitely not for a sport diver - the Atlantis Submarine used to take visitors to this wreck, but the submarine was wrecked during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.


Many other "ladies of the seas" have seen their end around the Cayman Islands, but their lives continue with the re-telling of their fascinating histories and stories - and not least, because of the habitats and artificial reefs that provide protection and life to so many Caribbean fish, sea animals and coral.

Some of the other ships that have become a part of the Cayman sands are :

Wreck of the Ten Sails, The Balboa, The Carrie Lee, The Doc Polson and the Keith Tibbetts Shipwreck.

RIP iron ladies of the seas!

The Doc Polson - photo courtesy of Neptune Divers

The Doc Polson - photo courtesy of Neptune Divers