The YO-44 (aka “Kodiak Queen”) was scheduled to be sliced up like ceviche in a scrapyard, a most inauspicious end for one of just five surviving ships from Pearl Harbor. The idea was formed to sink the Kodiak Queen as a way of spurring the rebirth of a reef off of the coast of Virgin Gorda in the Virgin Islands.
But the ship that didn’t sink during the attack on Pearl Harbor needed a more heroic end than just having a few holes drilled in its haul and flooded with water. A ship with such a storied past could only be brought down to the deep by a beast of mythical origin, the fabled octopus-like Kraken said to drag sailors, ships and virgin sacrifices into the deep.
As far as we can tell there isn’t a Kraken living off of Virgin Gorda (unless you ask my wife and she’ll swear she was attacked by one). However, we did see a latticework in the shape of the mythical creature affixed to the hull of the sunken Kodiak Queen. The framework is designed to attract and promote the growth of coral. The ship was sunk in April 2017 and has been available to dive since June. Sculptures like this one act as coral platforms and provide optimal feeding grounds for species like the goliath grouper.
The site is truly amazing even if you are only snorkeling. You can look 57 feet down through the relatively clear water and see the ship on the ocean floor. You can follow it from bow to stern where you will see the great Kraken wrapped around the hull and the beginnings of coral growth. Amanda and I quickly agreed that we need to go back and dive the site in a few years when the growth has a real chance to take hold. The site is a must-see if you’re visiting Virgin Gorda. We also found that the local dive shops that dive the site donate a small portion of the fee to the project to help fund the planting of coral and environmental studies. If you dive the site on your own you can donate through the BVI Art Reef website.
*The debris you see is life. It’s very small, but it’s amazing.