VIRGIN GORDA, British Virgin Islands, Friday March 17, 2017 – It’s said to be one of only five ships that survived the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. And in a few weeks, it will become one of the Caribbean’s newest diving destinations.
Billionaire Richard Branson, working in conjunction with organizations Unite BVI, ARK and Beneath the Waves, is developing the YoKo BVIArt Reef on the Kodiak Queen (YO-44), a former Navy fuel barge.
The old ship is being transformed into an artificial reef and fantasy adventure dive site in an “art meets world history meets ocean conservation” project, according to the project’s website. It will be sunk off Virgin Gorda later this month and divers will soon thereafter be able to explore it.
The highlight of the art installation will be a giant Kraken sculpture that will be wrapped around the boat. Once the art is installed, the team behind the project will keep an eye on the underwater reef and artificial habitat to monitor the marine health of the area.
“This reef will allow people to experience the wonder of the ocean and its species up close, while having the time of their lives. That way, what they will learn with stay with them and affect them deeply and hopefully turn into more action to conserve the ocean,” said Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and owner of Necker Island in the BVI.
The initiative will not only provide a sunken art gallery and help rehabilitate heavily over-fished marine populations in ways that boost income for local dive operators and the BVI economy. It will also actually be saving the decorated World War II ship from being scrapped for metal.
Clive Petrovic, ARK founding member, marine biologist and environmental consultant, believes the ship will quickly become a premier dive site, “perhaps even rivaling the Rhone as an internationally recognized attraction”.