Archives for Shipwrecks

The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association is hosting an exhibit titled Marine / Aquatic Exhibition from April 14 to May 23.  The exhibit includes artwork that reflects a myriad of images and themes in the Marine/Aquatic environment including, Oceanic Scenery, Sea Animals, People at Sea, Marine Vessels and the Marine ecosystem.

I will have several aluminum prints on display including:

Hammerhead-Shark-Molokai

Star of India

Star-of-India-Rigging-373x563

Star of India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predator – Hammerhead shark, Molokai Hawaii

Hammerhead-Shark-Molokai

Predator – Hammerhead Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carthaginian II

Vintage Carthaginian II

Carthaginian II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Kittiwake

USS Kittiwake at rest Grand Cayman

USS Kittiwake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manta Ray Trio

Manta-Ray-Trio Kona Hawaii

Manta Ray Trio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association  (SGFAA) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1965 for the purpose of promoting traditional fine art in the community and to provide a venue for member artists to show their work. The association maintains a large group of over 200 members and represents all of Southern California and several states.

The SSGFAA supports awareness and education in the arts from aspiring artists to professionals by providing a venue and platform for members to display their works, providing art classes and art demonstrations, and encouraging growth and exploration in various forms of art to our community.

In addition to my work their will be a number of other artists displaying a variety of photographs, paintings and other work.  I would encourage everyone to go out and support the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association and their ongoing efforts at education and awareness of the arts in southern California.

The venue is at 320 Mission Deive, San Gabriel, CA the next door to the San Gabriel Playhouse and near the historic San Gabriel Mission and provides great ambience for the exhibit.

Come support the local arts community and enjoy historic San Gabriel.

Mahalo

Vintage Carthaginian II

Vintage, Carthaginian II Shipwreck

Vintage Carthaginian II Creativity

I had a lot of fun putting these images together and creating some really interesting fine art and vintage photos of the Carthaginian II shipwreck in Maui Hawaii.  When I dive on a particular site a number of times I tend to equate a certain feel or mood for the site.  The Carthaginian II, originally a German cement transport ship, is almost 100 years old and was originally built and launched in 1920.  The ship was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and extensive refitted to make the ship resemble a 1800’s period whaling ship.  The ship was

Carthaginian II Whailing Museum

Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii

used as a floating museum in the harbor of Lahaina for over 30 years.  Remembering the ship floating in the harbor and now seeing her laying on the sea floor just outside of the harbor brings up a certain sense of nostalgia.

Age and Mystery

What I wanted to create was a sense of the age of the ship and the purpose that she served in Maui and even in Hawaii more generally.  When I dive on the ship, although she is not large, I sometimes get a sense of the “ghosts” of periods past associated with this aging wreck.  The ship’s main mast collapsed in the summer of 2011 and is now situated on top of the ship.  The hold is buckled significantly but makes a great shot if you lie down on the floor of the cargo hold of the ship.  There are a number of

Carthaginian II In the Hold

In the Hold, Carthaginian II

hard corals that have attached themselves to various portions of the wreck and you can usually find a reasonable variety of marine life on board.

To get the feel I was looking for in Vintage Carthaginian II, I choose to take a number of wide angle shots where I can see the entire ship and also a few photos where I would have interesting features that would lend themselves to a sense of age and provide a certain forlorn aspect to the photo.  As many of you can appreciate, getting a great photo to work with is the first part of the endeavor and I then went to work in Photoshop to give the images the exact look

Carthaginian II Discovery

Discovery, Carthaginian II

and feel that I wanted.  As I began to work

with the images I kept coming back to black and white images with good contrast with interesting textures and/or features to bring out the moodiness of the dive site.  These photos will go well with whale song form the Humpbacks that you can typically hear if you dive the site from late December up to late April or May.

Fine Art

I hope will agree the final images for Vintage Carthaginian II provide a sense of mystery and intrigue as well as a sense of discovery.  Though the ship continues to age and various parts continue to deteriorate the wreck still continue to be a

Carthaginian II

Carthaginian II Study in Abstract

great dive for a long time.  The key on this dive as most dives is to go very slow.  This is a small sight and while she lies at about 80 feet you still have plenty of bottom time to explore.  Let you imagination run away with you and imagine the life of the whaler and the importance of whaling in the development of  the Hawaiian Islands.

Go to my website and see the Carthaginian II Gallery for a complete photo review of the ship.

The pool is open…

 

 

The Carthaginian II was once used as a whaling museum in Lahaina Harbor.  It is a replica of a 19th century brig similar to the ships that first brought commerce to the Hawaiian Islands. The ship was a cement carrier built in Germany in 1920 and rechristened the Carthaginian II.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii

It sailed to Lahaina in 1973 where it took seven years for the historically accurate 18th century whaling ship rigging to be assembled. The Carthaginian II served as a reminder of Lahaina’s nautical heritage and was docked for many years at Lahaina Harbor. The ship was owned by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation which operated the museum on board that displayed relics of Lahaina’s historic whaling days.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Although it had no true historical value, the Carthaginian II was one of Lahaina’s most recognizable attractions, featured in thousands of artworks and visitor photographs for over the 30 years. The ship belonged to the nonprofit Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which was spending $50,000 a year to maintain the rusting hulk. When marine engineers advised against further repairs because of the increasing costs, Atlantis was approached to claim the vessel and use it as an artificial reef which would in turn enhance the existing Atlantis submarine tours in Lahaina.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian and Atlantis, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

On December 13, 2005, following two years of preparation, Atlantis Adventures sank the Carthaginian off Lahaina, Maui.  This created an artificial reef that will have lasting marine life benefits. The reefing took place off Puamana which is just outside the Lahaina harbor. The 97-foot, steel-hulled vessel, sank in 95 feet of water where it will serve as an artificial reef.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Main Mast in Forward Hold, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

The first Carthaginian was a replica of a whaling supply vessel used for the 1966 movie “Hawaii,” based on the James Michener novel. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation purchased the wooden boat, but it sank in 1972 on its way to O’ahu for dry dock. The German vessel was acquired and was rechristened the Carthaginian II and after extensive restoration work it served the city as a floating museum for many years.

Atlantis spent approximately $350,000 on the Carthaginian II project, including preparation of environmental studies. American Marine Services was hired to handle reefing operation. Before the Carthaginian II was towed from Lahaina Harbor, entertainers from the Old Lahaina Lu’au performed “Aloha ‘Oe” and members of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation placed lei on the vessel and held signs bidding it aloha.

To prepare for the sinking, 10 tons of concrete had been loaded on board, adding to the 35 tons of material the boat already was carrying. Atlantis’ small tugboat Roxie pulled the Carthaginian II out of the harbor before transferring the operation to the larger American Islander tugboat.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Frogfish Closeup, Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii

A flotilla of about 20 boats was waiting when the Carthaginian II arrived at Puamana, and spectators lined the shore or pulled over on Honoapi’ilani Highway to watch the spectacle. Kahu Charles Kaupu offered a Hawaiian blessing, and after a 3-ton anchor was secured to the bow and the boat was in position, patches were removed from two sets of holes that had been cut into the hull about 18 inches above the water line. Seawater was pumped into the hull, and 27 minutes later the Carthaginian was headed to the sandy bottom.

Observers let loose with applause and whoops of appreciation as the ship quietly slipped beneath the surface. Aboard the Atlantis shuttle boat three air-shattering blasts were fired from miniature brass cannon to mark the occasion.

Carthaginian II Overview

The Carthaginian II lies in about 90 feet of water of the coast of Lahina. It is about a 10 to 15 minute trip from the harbor to the dive site. The Carthaginian II was sunk approximately 10 years ago and now supports a wide variety of marine life.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Looking Through the Main Cabin, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

When you begin to descend from the mooring ball you will normally be able to see the outline of the ship quite easily. The visibility is usually 80+ feet and much of the time over 100+ feet. There can be some current on this site so some divers may want to descend using the mooring line. As you descend you will begin to notice more details regarding the ship and the impacts of being on the reef for about 6 years. The main mast collapsed in mid-summer 2011 and can now be seen sitting on the deck. The main cabin roof and walls have deteriorated to some degree and there are numerous holes into the hold. The access to the hold itself is quite large and easily accessible. The engine room and forward compartment is blocked by a gate but you can still get a good variety of photos in this area. The rear area of the cargo hold is fairly clear and contains a variety of fish species and crustaceans.

Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Pacific Trumpetfish Entering Hold, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

There are also a number of frogfish on the wreck. I was able to photograph five different frogfish on my last dive. These fish are extremely well placed for macro photos and can consume a lot of bottom time, but it is well worth the effort. Two frogfish were on the main deck to the rear of the main cabin and three were on the starboard side about the midships area.

You will find a wide variety of fish including, Pacific Trumpetfish, Sergeant Majors, Dascyllus, Orangespine Unicornfish, Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse, and many more.

This dive is best when there are less than ten divers in the water since the ship itself is not very large. It is a very worthwhile dive and I highly recommend it for your next trip to Maui.

Check out images of other wrecks on my website at www.stevenwsmeltzer.com or visit my blog blog.stevenwsmeltzer.com or follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/images2inspire

The pool is open…..

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

Debris Field, Oro Verde, Grand Cayman

Some of the most interesting types of shipwrecks for scuba diving are the purpose sunk ships that have been scuttled to create artificial reefs. After adequate preparation, this is a wonderful way for older ships to give not only a benefit to scuba divers but also a shelter to a variety of marine organisms (see National Geographic article “Artificial Reefs: Trash to Treasure” February 5, 2001).

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

Port Side, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman

Along with true shipwrecks, there have been and continue to be a large number of ships sunk to create artificial reefs (Wikipedia provides a list of some wrecks that have been reefed over the last twenty years including the HMAS Adelaide and the USS Kittiwake which were just sunk in 2011). These wrecks have come to be an important part of the local ecosystems*. In fact, these wrecks may also offer an opportunity to help improve the condition of reefs

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

View from above. Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

globally. Studies from the Red Sea and other locations tend to show that there is little difference between developments of an artificial reef as compared to natural reefs. Artificial reefs made from steel vessels offers long-term development for the reef and immediate space for organisms to inhabit.

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

Decent, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

PADI and NAUI offer specialty shipwrecks diving courses to train divers in “safety, hazards and cautions, special risks of overhead environments, entanglement, limited visibility, deep diving, equipment, site of wrecks, sources of information, search methods, underwater navigation, legal aspects, artifacts, treasure, salvage, archaeology, and much more”. Wreck diving can be a wonderful experience for any diver. However, before penetrating any ship the diver should have adequate training according to the state of the ship being explored. Deep water wrecks, “natural” shipwrecks, etc., should only be explored by experienced and trained divers using appropriate safety gear and precautions.

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

Frogfish Closeup, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

Unlike true shipwrecks many reefed ships such as the USS Kittiwake in Grand Cayman, have been extensively prepared for reefing to make entry, exploration and exiting the ship relatively safe and easy. However, many older reefed ships should be approached cautiously and if the diver is not “wreck” certified penetration of the wreck should not be attempted. They key is to understand the condition of the wreck and what the diver is likely to encounter before entering the water. Use of a high quality scuba diving operation will greatly add to the safety and enjoyment of the diving experience.

Shipwrecks (Steven W Smeltzer)

Port side, main deck, USS Kittiwake

As an underwater photographer, shipwrecks hold a special fascination to me. To be able to capture the mystery and character of the ship in a photo is a special challenge. However, there are those moments when you are able to get everything just right and the photo seems to come alive. The ability of a photo to transport the viewer into the image and experience the wonder of the moment is the real test of a truly amazing photo.

*Note: While there continues to be some debate about the benefits of creating artificial reefs, the benefit of these reefs can be clearly seen from many long-term – 20 year plus artificial reefs in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean and other locations. You can read more about reefing of ships at www.natgeo.com and many other websites and review “National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs” which was developed by the USEPA and the US Maritime Administration.
Come explore my shipwreck diving photos in the following galleries on my website and remember “the pool is open”.

The Carthaginian II Gallery

USS Kittwake Gallery

Doc Polson Gallery

The Oro Verde Gallery

Ships sunk for wreck diving (from Wikipedia)

Date Ship Name Location Country
2011 USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) Cape May, New Jersey United States
2011 HMAS Adelaide Avoca Beach, New South Wales Australia
2011 USS Kittiwake >West Bay, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
2009 HMAS Canberra Barwon Heads, Victoria Australia
2009 USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10) Key West, Florida United States
2007 HMNZS Canterbury Bay of Islands New Zealand
2006 Xihwu Boeing 737 British Columbia Canada
2005 Carthaginian II Lanai Hawaii United States
2005 HMNZS Wellington Wellington New Zealand
2005 HMAS Brisbane Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia
2004 HMS Scylla Whitsand Bay, Cornwall United Kingdom
2004 USS Oriskany Florida United States
2003 CS Charles L Brown Sint Eustatius Leeward Islands
2003 HMCS Nipigon Quebec Canada
2002 MV Dania Mombasa Kenya
2002 USS Spiegel Grove Florida United States
002 HMAS Hobart Yankalilla Bay, South Australia Australia
2001 HMCS Cape Breton British Columbia Canada
2001 HMAS Perth Albany, Western Australia Australia
2000 HMCS Yukon San Diego, California United States
2000 Stanegarth Stoney Cove United Kingdom
2000 HMNZS Waikato Tutukaka New Zealand
1999 HMNZS Tui Tutukaka Heads New Zealand
1995 HMCS Saskatchewan British Columbia Canada
1997 HMAS Swan Dunsborough, Western Australia Australia
1996 HMCS Columbia British Columbia Canada
1996 MV Captain Keith Tibbetts (formerly Russian-built Frigate 356) Cayman Brac Cayman Islands
1996 Inganess Bay British Virgin Islands
1995 HMCS Mackenzie British Columbia Canada
1992 HMCS Chaudire British Columbia Canada
1991 to 2001 Wreck Alley – The Marie L, The Pat and The Beata British Virgin Islands
1991 MV G.B. Church British Columbia Canada
1990 Fontao Durban South Africa
1990 T-Barge Durban South Africa
1987 to 2000 Wreck Alley San Diego, California United States
1987 USCGC Bibb Florida United States
1987 USCGC Duane Florida United States
1981 Doc Poulson Cayman Islands
1980 Oro Verde Cayman Islands
1970 Glen Strathallen (sunk to produce a diver training facility) Plymouth United Kingdom

The pool is open…..

The Carthaginian Shipwreck was once used as a whaling museum.  It is a replica of a 19th century brig which is similar to the ships that first brought commerce to the Hawaiian Islands.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii

The ship was originally a cement carrier built in Germany in 1920.  The ship was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and rechristened the Carthaginian II.  It sailed to Lahaina in 1973 where it took seven years for the historically accurate 18th century whaling ship rigging to be assembled.  The ship served as a reminder of Lahaina’s nautical heritage and was docked for many years at Lahaina Harbor.  The Lahaina Restoration Foundation operated a museum on board that displayed relics of Lahaina’s historic whaling days.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

 

 

 

Although it had no true historical value, the Carthaginian II was one of Lahaina’s most recognizable attractions.  It was featured in thousands of artworks and visitor photographs for over the 30 years. As the ship aged it became more difficult to repair.  The Lahaina Restoration Foundation was eventually spending about $50,000 a year to maintain the rusting hulk. When marine engineers advised against further repairs Atlantis submarines was approached to claim the vessel and use it as an artificial reef.  This would in turn enhance the existing Atlantis submarine tours in Lahaina.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Carthaginian and Atlantis, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

On December 13, 2005, following two years of preparation, Atlantis Adventures sank the ship off Lahaina, Maui.   The reefing took place off Puamana which is just outside the Lahaina harbor.  The 97-foot, steel-hulled vessel, sank in 95 feet of water where it rests upright on its keel. Creating an artificial reef with the Carthaginian shipwreck was an extensive effort that will have long lasting marine life benefits.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Looking Through the Main Cabin, Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii

 

 

 

 

The first Carthaginian was a replica of a whaling supply vessel used for the 1966 movie “Hawaii,” based on the James Michener novel. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation purchased the wooden boat, but it sank in 1972 on its way to O’ahu for dry dock.  The German vessel was acquired and was rechristened the Carthaginian II and after extensive work served the city as a floating museum for many years.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Frogfish Closeup, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii

Atlantis spent approximately $350,000 on the Carthaginian shipwreck project, including preparation of environmental studies. American Marine Services was hired to handle reefing operation. Before the Carthaginian II was towed from Lahaina Harbor, entertainers from the Old Lahaina Lu’au performed “Aloha ‘Oe” and members of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation placed lei on the vessel and held signs bidding it aloha.

To prepare for the sinking, 10 tons of concrete had been loaded on board, adding to the 35 tons of material the boat already was carrying. Atlantis’ small tugboat Roxie pulled the Carthaginian II out of the harbor before transferring the operation to the larger American Islander tugboat.

A flotilla of about 20 boats was waiting when the Carthaginian II arrived at Puamana, and spectators lined the shore or pulled over on Honoapi’ilani Highway to watch the spectacle. Kahu Charles Kaupu offered a Hawaiian blessing, and after a 3-ton anchor was secured to the bow and the boat was in position.  Patches were then removed from two sets of holes that had been cut into the hull about 18 inches above the water line. Seawater was pumped into the hull, and 27 minutes later the Carthaginian was headed to the sandy bottom. Observers let loose with applause and whoops of appreciation as the ship quietly slipped beneath the surface. Aboard the Atlantis shuttle boat three air-shattering blasts were fired from miniature brass cannon to mark the occasion.

Carthaginian Shipwreck The Dive

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Main Mast in Forward Hold, Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii

The Carthaginian shipwreck lies in about 90 feet of water of the coast of Lahina.  It is about a 10 to 15 minute trip from the harbor to the dive site.  The ship was sunk approximately 6 years ago and now supports a wide variety of marine life.  When you begin to descend from the mooring ball you will normally be able to see the outline of the ship quite easily.  The visibility is usually 80+ feet and much of the time over 100+ feet.  There can be some current on this site so some divers may want to descend using the mooring line.  As you descend to the Carthaginian shipwreck you will begin to notice more details regarding the ship and the impacts of being on the reef for a number of years.  The main mast collapsed in mid-summer 2011 and can now be seen sitting on the deck.  The main cabin roof and walls have deteriorated to some degree and there are numerous holes into the hold.  The access to the hold itself is quite large and easily accessible.  The engine room and forward compartment is blocked by a gate but you can still get a good variety of photos in this area.  The rear area of the cargo hold is fairly clear and at the present time will contain various fish species or crustaceans as they are moving about the ship.

Carthaginian shipwreck, Maui Hawaii (Steven W Smeltzer)

Pacific Trumpetfish Entering Hold, Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii

 

 

There are a number of frogfish on the Carthaginian shipwreck and I was able to photograph five different frogfish on my last dive.  These fish are extremely well placed for macro photos and can consume a lot of bottom time, but it is well worth the effort.  Two frogfish were on the main deck to the rear of the main cabin and three were on the starboard side about the midships area.

You will also find a wide variety of fish including, Pacific Trumpetfish, Sergeant Majors, Dascyllus, Orangespine Unicornfish, Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse, and many more.

The Carthaginian shipwreck dive is best when there are less than ten divers in the water since the ship itself is not very large.  It is a very worthwhile dive and I highly recommend it for your next trip to Maui.

Check out images of other wrecks on my website at www.stevenwsmeltzer.com or visit my blog blog.stevenwsmeltzer.com or follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/images2inspire

The pool is open…..

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Descent to the bow, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

The Oro Verde shipwreck (meaning Green Gold) in Grand Cayman has been a favorite site for divers since she was sunk on May 31, 1980 by the Caymanian government.  The vessel a 131-foot 692-ton freighter lies in about 50 feet of water just off Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach.  The Oro Verde shipwreck has deteriorated a lot since her reefing.  This is mainly the result of several hurricanes that have hit the island in the last 30 years.  The debris field today is scattered over a wide area with only the bow section still intact.

The following is an article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune dated Sunday, August 10, 1980 three months after the Oro Verde was reefed.

New Target Found For Cayman Divers

N.Y. Times News Service

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Survey of Bow, Oro Verde, Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

Scuba divers on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean have a new target to examine:  A 692-ton Panamanian cargo ship that has been deliberately sunk in 60 feet of water off the island’s Seven Mile Beach.

The vessel, the 131-foot Oro Verde, had been stuck on a sandbar after it ran aground off the 17-mile long island’s North Sound four years ago.  A group of Grand Cayman divers then hit on the idea of stimulating diving interest by salvaging the freighter and sinking it 300 yards offshore from the beach and hotel area.

The divers sought contributions to the project from hotels, airlines and other tourist organizations and purchased the salvage rights from the Caymanian government.  Then, before towing the Oro Verde to its new site, they cleaned it and removed the watches, doors, glass and rough edges to make it as safe as possible.

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Soft Corals on the Bow, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

“The removal of the doors and hatches also created a lovelier site by allowing more sunlight to filter through to the ship’s interior,” said Horace DuQuesnay, a tour company representative who lives on the island and participated in the salvage.  “The wreck will become more beautiful over the years as the colored coral becomes an integral part of the ship.”

The story of the Oro Verde is a rather interesting one.  She was originally built as a “liberty ship” her original name was the Navajo and is a sister ship to the infamous USS Pueblo (that is the only US navy ship still being held captive by the North Koreans).  Once the ship was retired from the Navy, she was registered in Nassau and ran freight to and from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The ship was once almost blown up in Miami with a homemade bomb in a cigar box.  See the following story from the Miami Herald dated October 19, 1966.

Cigar Box Bomb Attached to Ship

By Gene Miller
Herald Staff Writer

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Starboard Side of Bow Section, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

A homemade bomb in a cigar box, attached by a magnet to the hull of a British cargo ship, failed to explode at the Miami City Docks Tuesday – apparently because an undersea bomber didn’t set it correctly.  “It should have gone off,” said Capt. Tom Brodie, chief of the Sheriff’s office bomb squad.  The ship the 180-foot 692-ton Oro Verde, was due to sail late in the day for a five-day trip to Cristobal, Panama. From there, after unloading, its normal route takes it through the Panama Canal to Ecuador.

“We don’t have the slightest idea why anyone would want to blow up our ship,” said Robert Trost, operations manager for Chester, Blackburn & Roder Inc., Miami agents.  Horace Barron, a crane operator loading general cargo, first noticed something peculiar attached to the hull several feet below the water line.  “He’d looked at it for a couple of hours and didn’t know what to think,” said Bob Kretzschmar, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to docks.  The ship was on the north side of Pier C, berth three.  But before it arrived there at 7 a.m., it had unloaded bananas at the parking lot dock of the Banana Supply Co. on the river. The ship reached Miami Sunday.

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Engine Room Remnants, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

“The crane operator started talking to the crew and someone finally decided to call the Coast Guard,” said Kretzschmar.  “The Coast Guard took one look and said ‘Call the bomb squad.'” This was at 11:28 a.m.  Capt. Brodie, accustomed to frequent false reports, also needed but a single glance. He took off his shoes and shirt, jumped in, and deactivated it.  The time-bomb, put inside a wooden Cuban cigar box consisted of a cast-made explosive, pentalite, and weighed about two pounds.  Attached to it was an acid pellet triggering device floating underwater in a prophylactic. It looked like a ping-pong ball in a balloon from the surface.  When the pellet or ampule is crushed, the acid begins to eat at the wire. When the wire gives, a spring releases a hammer which strikes the primmer of the cap.  “Someone didn’t set it right,” said Capt. Brodie. “It should have gone off.”

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Channel Clinging Crab, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

Pentalite, he said, is a “very high order explosive, a step above TNT or the normal plastic explosives. It would have blown quite a hole in the hull.”  Investigators said they didn’t know whether or not the ship would have sunk.  Capt. Brodie said that pentalite is often used by militant Cuban exiles here. There was one unverified report that the CIA once had an interest in the ship.  Trost, the agency manager, discounted thoughts of anyone trying to blow up the ship in the Panama Canal. “The detonating device was of much too short duration for that,” he said. “It sure is odd.”

The ship, registered as British, is managed by a crew of 17. Wendell Phillips, a U.S. citizen, is the captain.  Trost, as well as police, believed that the bomb was attached to the ship in the Miami River sometime prior to loading at Pier C.  Yet police said they couldn’t tell how long it had been there.  Sheriff skindiver Ed Zender explored the underside of the hull for other bombs and Deputies J. K. Russell and James Askew searched the ship.  Neither Capt. Phillips nor John. W. Tatcher, owner of the vessel, could offer any possible motive for sabotage.  The ship, built in 1942, once was an Army cargo vessel, Phillips said.  “All we do is carry bananas from Ecuador and general cargo from Miami to the Canal Zone,” said Thatcher.

The Oro Verde Shipwreck Dive

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Debris Field, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

The Oro Verde shipwreck was originally a Liberty Ship built to carry cargo for the US  during WWII and supposedly a sistership to the infamous USS Pueblo (although documentation is very shaky). The ship was sold by the Navy and began operations as a merchant cargo ship sailing in the Caribbean and South America and is thought to mainly carry bananas or a regular basis.  The Oro Verde shipwreck became a drug smuggling ship late in her life and ran aground in Grand Cayman in 1976.  She was on the reef several years until a consortium of local diver operators got together with the local government to turn the ship into an artificial reef.  Local dive lore tells that the Captain of the ship hoped to make one last large deal to retire more comfortably and had a large amount of marijuana on board the Oro Verde.  While on route to Grand Cayman the crew of the ship found out about the Marijuana and confronted the captain, seeking a share of the profits since they would be prosecuted if caught with the ship and the drugs.  The Captain is said to have refused and the crew killed him and threw him overboard.  The crew then not knowing the local waters ran the ship aground.  When the authorities were notified the crew had abandoned ship and the marijuana was confiscated and burned on the south end of the island.  The story also goes on to say that the prevailing winds were blowing from the southeast to the northwest and everyone on the islands was reportedly quite happy for  several days.

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Green Moray Eel, Gymnothorax funebris, Oro Verde shipwreck, Grand Cayman

The Oro Verde shipwreck and surrounding reefs are home to many species of sea animals, fish and corals, making this one of the most popular shallow dives in Grand Cayman, often frequented after a deeper wall dive or on a night dive.  Though it was in pristine condition when it was sunk and lying on her starboard in the sand next door to a patch of reef, the wreck’s finer details have since given way to the force of time; passing hurricanes have broken, rolled and scattered the vessel across a wide debris field closer to the reef. Still, the Oro Verde shipwreck remains a great example of a thriving artificial reef.

Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Rough Fileclam, Oro Verde Shipwreck, Grand Cayman

The buoy is attached to the bow section which is the only remaining intact part of the wreck.  There are no longer any ways to penetrate the wreck but you can look into the bow section through a couple of port holes.  The debris field flows primarily from the bow section to the north along several coral fingers.  The diver can choose to spend all or part of the dive on the wreck and part of the dive on the reef. There is a wide variety of reef fish such as parrotfish, sergeant majors, angelfish, silversides (seasonally), schoolmasters, large groupers and moray eels as well as crustaceans such as the arrow crab and rough file clam

The Oro Verde shipwreck is still a worthwhile dive. I especially like it as a night dive for the variety of marine species that are present.  The Oro Verde lies about 100 yards off shore so advanced divers in good physical condition could reach it as a shore dive but with the long swim and requisite dive flags and floats due to offshore boat traffic, why bother? All of the local dive operators will be happy to take you to the Oro Verde as your second half of a two tank west side boat dive, an afternoon dive or on a night dive.  I would urge you to dive the wreck whether it is the first time or it you have dove on the Oro Verde shipwreck before.  The site is constantly changing and the marine species always make for an interesting dive.

Check out images of other wrecks in Grand Cayman the Doc Poulson and the USS Kittiwake

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There are other interesting wrecks in Grand Cayman besides the USS Kittiwake.

Doc Paulson bow, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

The Doc Poulson is a purpose sunk shipwreck on the western part of Grand Cayman.  The ship was originally a Japanese cable laying ship and was sunk in Grand Cayman in 1981 to create an artificial reef on Seven Mile Deck Wenches, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman (StevenWSmeltzer.com)beach.  The wreck site is named for Doc Poulson who helped set up the first hyperbaric chamber on Grand Cayman for the treatment of decompression sickness.

The wreck sits upright in about 50 to 60 feet of water and can be easily explored. However, given the age of the wreck there are many exposed surfaces that can cause harm to a diver.  The ship is about 70 feet in length and the cable wenches can still be seen on deck but are heavily encrusted with corals.  There are a variety of fish in and around the ship from Goliath grouper, to Queen Conch, to cleaner shrimp, blue tang and many more.

The wreck sits on a sand flat Below Deck, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman (StevenWSmeltzer.com)and is about a 5 minute swim away from the reef.  The clarity of the water in Grand Cayman, along with the upright position of the boat makes it a great place for underwater photography from the novice to the professional.

The hatches have been removed to make penetration diving easy and safe allowing a diver to explore the decks and the hold of the ship.  The interior of the ship is filled with a good bit of sand, but working your way through the ship is still quite easy even after 30 years on the reef. Doc Paulson amidships interior, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

As a day dive the Doc Poulson is a rather small site and is usually combined with diving the reef nearby which is about a 5 minute swim away.  If you take your time however, you can spend most of your dive time at the wreck.  However, this is a better dive when there are no more than 5 to 6 divers on the site and great when there are only two.  It can be a good night-dive spot especially for an underwater photographer as you have a Christmastree Worm, Doc Paulson, Grand Cayman (StevenWSmeltzer.com)wide variety of marine life around the wreck including a number of small creatures great for macro shots. There are many sponges, brain corals, Christmastree worms and a nice Social Feather Duster on the stern rail.

For other underwater photographs of the Doc Poulson just click on one of the photographs or go to my Doc Poulson Gallery.  If you want to find information on other wrecks in Grand Cayman such as the USS Kittiwake you can check out my Blog and/or view more underwater photographs on my website and/or follow me on Twitter at Images2Inspire

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                                                                               Ode to the USS Kittiwake shipwreck

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

 

Rest well your work is finally done

No more the ocean to roam

No more to fight the storm and sea

Rest well beneath the waves

 

 

View the complete USS Kittiwake shipwreck photo gallery here or click on each photo to go to the gallery.

 (Steven Smeltzer)The USS Kittiwake shipwreck is a Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue Ship. Its keel was laid down, January 5, 1945, at the Savannah Machinery and Foundry, Company shipyard in Savannah, GA. It was launched on July 10, 1945 and commissioned as the USS Kittiwake (ASR-013). She was decommissioned September 30, 1994 and struck from the Naval Register September 30, 1991950s photo of USS Kittiwake, ASR-13 (Steven Smeltzer)4. She was initially transferred to MARAD for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet and then withdrawn from the fleet February 18, 2010 and prepared for reefing in the Cayman Islands.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Preparing for Reefing, USS Kittiwake

The Chanticleer Class ships were designated specifically for submarine rescue. Each ship in this class was equipped with powerful pumps, heavy air compressors, and special mooring equipment. The Chanticleer Class ASRs support air and helium-oxygen diving operations to a depth of 300 feet of sea water (fsw) and use the McCann Rescue Chamber for submarine personnel rescue operations. The ASR design provided a large deck working area.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

USS Kittiwake. ASR-13. Grand Cayman

The USS Kittiwake shipwreck finished a distinguished service career spanning almost 50 years when she was decommissioned from the U.S. Navy in 1994. Following her retirement, the ship became part of America’s National Defense Reserve Fleet under the control of MARAD, or the Maritime Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The ship ended her career as the first MARAD ship sold to a foreign government for artificial reefing.

 

 

USS Kittiwake Shipwreck Overview

That a patch of sand off the north end of Seven Mile Beach has become the final “port-of-call” of the USS Kittiwake shipwreck is the result of a long and determined effort by a partnership consisting of the Cayman

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Engineering Mural, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

Islands government and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA). Negotiations had to be conducted and funds raised to purchase the ship from the U.S. government and prepare it for sinking as a dive site, including removing hazardous contaminants and cutting openings in the hull and bulkheads to give divers greater access to the vessel’s interior.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Into the Distance, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

 

After years of delays and concerns that the plan might never come to fruition, the Kittiwake began the first stage of its last voyage in February, when it was towed from its Reserve Fleet mooring at Newport News, Virginia, to the facilities of private contractor Dominion Marine. There, all the final preparations for the sinking were completed. The ship was sunk January 5, 2011 off the north end of Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Descent, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

There are 5 decks on the 47 foot tall USS Kittiwake shipwreck. 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. The upper decks accommodate the 2 bridges (both an external and internal bridge to allow operations in heavy seas) along with the radio and navigation room. The sonar has been removed. The Captain and XO’s quarters are also on the upper decks.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Bridge, USS Kittiwake, Grand Caman

On the main deck of the USS Kittiwake shipwreck, starting at the bow, you will find the rec room, mess hall, ironing room, small tool workshop and recompression chambers. You will also see a large a-frame structure on the stern that supported submarines and hard hat divers.  This also supported the diving bell where divers would enter to return to the ship from the ocean and then be placed in the chambers for decompression.

Below the main deck, 2 decks exist that include the crews quarter, medic/hospital station, engine and propulsion rooms, air bank storage and compressors, as well as the steering gear, shaft, gyro, ammunition lockers, cold storage and barber shop to name a few areas. While the USS Kittiwake shipwreck has been opened up with large access holes both vertically and horizontally, every space on the ship was used while in service.

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Shaft Alley, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

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Commanding Officers:

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Forward Exit, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

LT L. H. COLLIER 1946 – 1948
LTT. C. HURST 1948- 1950
LT W. K. WILSON 1950 – 1952
LTP. P. ROGERS 1952- 1954
LT T. E. COLBURNE 1954 – 1954
LCDRW.D.BUCKEE 1954-1956
LCDRW.H.HIBBS 1956- 1958
LCDR W. M. SCOTT 1958 – 1960
LCDR P.O. POWELL 1960 – 1962
LCDR R. E. KUTZLEB 1962 – 1964
LCDR G. R. LANGFORD 1964 – 1966
LCDR H. H. SCRANTON 1966 – 1968

LCDR R. F. JAMES 1968 – 1970
LCDR W. J. MULLALY 1970 – 1971
LCDR S. MCNEASE 1971 – 1974
CDR F. K. DUFFY 1974 – 1977
CDR F. M. SCHERY 1977 – 1979
CDRP. F. FAWCETT 1979- 1981
CDRT.J.MARTIN 1981-1983
CDR R. J. NORRIS 1983 – 1985
CDRT.J.ERWIN 1985-1988
CDR J. S. TROTTER 1988 – 1991
CDRW.J.STEWART 1991-1993
CDR S. N. ZEHNER 1993 – 1994

Specifications:
Displacement 1,780 t.(lt) 2,040 t.(fl)
Length 251′ 4″
Beam 42′
Draft 16′
Speed 14.5 kts.
Complement

USS Kittiwake shipwreck (StevenWSmeltzer.com)

Stairwell, USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman

Officers 6
Enlisted 96
Largest Boom Capacity 11 t.
Armament
two single 3″/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts
two single 40mm AA gun mounts
eight single 20mm AA gun mounts
four depth charge tracks
Fuel Capacity
Diesel 1,785 Bbls
Propulsion
four G.M. 12-278A Diesel-electric engines
single Fairbanks Morse Main Reduction Gears
Ship’s Service Generators
two Diesel-drive 200Kw 120V/240V D.C.
one Diesel-drive 100Kw 120V/240V D.C.
single propeller, 3,000hp