Wreck of the Kittiwake Diving & Snorkelling

Wreck of the Kittiwake Diving & Snorkelling

Explore this amazing marine park

Jessica Wright image
Last updated 19 December, 2023
The sunken wreck of the USS Kittiwake

Sitting at a depth of 62ft in clear Caribbean waters, the Ex-USS Kittiwake is a former submarine rescue vessel that served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1994.

The History

Kittiwake in the 1970s, photo courtesy of the US Navy. She was decommissioned on 30th September 1994. 

The USS Kittiwake, started its service in 1948 and played a key role in supporting submarines and engaging in various operations post World War II. From witnessing historic moments like the first Polaris ballistic missile launch in 1960, to recovering the Space Shuttle Challenger's black box in 1986, the Kittiwake had a diverse and interesting history. 

Diving & Snorkelling The Kittiwake

The ship is 251ft long, 47ft tall and has five decks to explore. Divers can discover the crew’s quarters, the recompression chamber, ammunition lockers and even the heads (bathrooms) – complete with mirrors.

Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera to capture some unusual shots! Snorkellers also enjoy visits to the Kittiwake, as the stack lies just 30ft from the surface, allowing them to see straight down to the bottom of the hull and into the engine room.

Marine Park Fee

As there is a significant amount of boat and jet ski traffic around the Kittiwake location, swimming from shore is prohibited. You must use a CITA licensed dive/snorkel operator. There is a $25 marine park fee to visit the site which will be included in your boat operator's rate.

Experienced snorkellers can even try free diving down to take the wheel in the wheel house.

Kittiwake internal
The wreck has been sunk deliberately and is shallow enough to allow light penetration

The Kittiwake attracts an abundance of marine life, including schools of tropical fish, sea turtles, eagle rays, the resident barracuda, groupers and much more! The ship is situated in a protected area that was set up to keep Cayman’s marine life and coral healthy.

Dive the wreck with Sunset Divers' expert guides in a small group. Friends and family can join for snorkelling, while certified divers explore the wreck below.

High season heads up!

Book your dive in advance. The USS Kittiwake is a popular dive site,  especially if you're visiting during high season.

Marine Park

It is against the law to touch or remove anything within the Marine Park; no gloves can be worn and fishing is prohibited. To continue this preservation effort, a Marine Park fee is charged and included in the amount your dive operator will charge you. You will receive a wristband (snorkellers) or medallion (divers) as a keepsake souvenir, which must be worn while exploring the Kittiwake.

To visit the Kittiwake your must use a CITA licensed dive/snorkel operator. As there is a significant amount of boat and jet ski traffic around the Kittiwake site, swimming from shore is prohibited.  There are several operators who can organise trips to dive or snorkel the Kittiwake.

Look but don't touch!

The USS Kittiwake is a fragile ecosystem, and it's important to not touch anything. This will help to protect the wreck and the marine life that lives there.


Please let us know if you have any comments, corrections or ideas to improve!

Explore Cayman Magazine

The 2024 edition of the Explore Cayman magazine is a 160 page full colour magazine and is available on Island for free!

View Now

Explore Cayman App

The Explore Cayman app is the #1 app for the Cayman Islands and can be downloaded for free from the Apple app store.

Learn More