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Sep 13, 2021

Witconcrete Ready to Become Dive Site

A couple of weeks ago we told you about a sugar ship that is soon to become a world-class dive site at the Turneffe Atoll.  Today, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainable Association gave reporters a first-hand experience on the ship to see how it is being prepared for its underwater descent.  News Five’s Paul Lopez explored several of the sixteen chambers, and ended the adventure with a splash.

 

Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez

“The Wit has gone through a process of decommissioning. Her service role will transition a third time, from a world war veteran to an economic lifeline in the sugar industry.  Now, she will serve as a diver’s intrigue, for our great blues, near our Turneffe Atolls.”

 

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA

“We are at a week and a half away from sinking, at least the planned date, depending on the weather. That is why we thought it would be good to see the ship in live, because in presentation you can’t tell the depth and the size of the project and what we are thinking.”

 

Once we arrived, we climbed onto the deck of the ship using a twelve-rung rope ladder. Once we made it to the top, we began descending four flights, below the stern of the ship.  We were accompanied by the caretaker of the ship who, twenty years ago, worked the Wit Concrete in the sugar industry. Arguably, no one knows the ship, from bow to stern, quite like Steven Sharp.

 

Steven Sharp

Steven Sharp, Caretaker, Witconcrete

“Pan this ship deh thus call me f up man, because thing weh people nuh want duh, I do up yah. So, certain jobs they use to tell me fih guh do it. All ah deh yah tank up yah, anyways pan this ship, I gawn everywhere pan this ship already. I could ker unu all ovah, from the stern ah the ship to the bow ah the ship if unu want.”

 

We then climbed back up to the deck. The Witconcrete had to meet several requirements before it can be sunk under the Turneffe Atoll Reserve. Barrels of oil were shipped off; asphalt was removed from the deck. Other works included several demolition to make it a safe location for diving without any impediments.

 

Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade

“The next move from here is the towing. So basically, we will get two barges of about three thousand four hundred horse powers from Big Creek that will tow this to its destination and put it into its position to be sunk.”

 

A little stretch and a breather after the first climb and then we went to the engine room, another three flights down.  Once the operating center of this concrete monstrosity now stripped of its engineering glory to meet its final resting place under the ocean’s bottom.

 

Valdemar Andrade

“It will be certainly, the largest concrete ship that is being sunken in the Caribbean. There is no other project that we know of that is being prepared at this point in time. We will go to the DEMA dive show in November and this will be a premier product in the Caribbean and in this region, if not the largest, it will be among the top three in the Caribbean, in terms of dive destination.”

 

Completing the entire dive could take somewhere up to five days. The total cost of the project, including the donation of the ship, amounts to three million dollars.  It’s not an inexpensive venture, and neither will it be cheap to book a ticket for one of these dives.

 

Valdemar Andrade

“In the Turneffe Atoll Marine products we are looking at high-end, low-impact tours, so it will be high priced.”

 

I decided taking the ladder down would be a disservice to the enormity of this concrete ship and its lengthy service to the nation. So, to pay homage, days before it becomes a world class dive site, this brave seafarer would walk the plank or jump ship. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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