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Sep 22, 2021

The Wit Remains on the Surface

The Witconcrete did not sink on Monday as was originally scheduled. The team experienced some unforeseen mechanical issue that has now caused the process to be delayed. Those anticipating this new wreck dive site will now have to wait an additional week or two before the ship meets its final resting place on the ocean floor. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Witconcrete was scheduled to sink on Monday inside the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. Its submersion will create a world-class dive site that will generate income for the protected area. But, due to technical difficulties, plans for sinking the ship were delayed.


Garen Simonyan

Garen Simonyan, Blackbird Caye Resort

“We have had some technical difficulties with the Wit Concrete with the anchors and some of the one-inch steel lines and some mechanical issues. There was a thought that we should go ahead and do it anyway. We both disagreed completely. So, we are going to ere on the side of caution and preserve the reef and everything to do with the environment here. So, unfortunately, it will not be happening today.”


Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA

“We consulted with Joe Weatherbee who is the technical expert on all of this. We look at all options that we could. We went through plans A, B and C on what we had planned. They didn’t hold up today and so we prefer to ere on site of caution, the precautionary principle. So, we will tow it to Belize, lodge it where it was, come back and secure everything, all the anchors everything, as best as possible, and come back at it again.”


The plan was to have the ship aligned perfectly with its final resting place. Once the anchors were secured, the explosives would be timed and then detonated. The ship would have been expected to sink directly to the bottom of the ocean, all calculations considered. But with several anchors compromised, the Wit remained at the ocean’s surface.


Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade

They arrived here at four-thirty this morning, all of that went well and did the positioning. As per the plan, we have the anchors in place. But, as you can see we are having a bit of a challenge to ensure that we secure those anchors in place unto the ship, which is part of the challenge in terms of sinking. The issue with that is that we have to hold it into position so that we are able then to continue pre-filling the tanks. We have already started, but with the maneuvering, it is hard to continue with the pumps .”


The preliminary work to see this leviathan become the dive destination TASA envisioned requires a lot of manpower and coordination. Some thirty sea fearers were out at sea to see the process through.


Valdemar Andrade

“We have around thirty people on there doing different things. You have divers that are diving up the cable lines and ensuring that the cable lines are being brought up to the ship, and ensuring that we position the ship right. We have a couple of boats that are giving the instructions to the tugs as to whether to go east, west, right, left back, forward to get the ship into position to be able to pull up the anchor. Then we have a number of people on the ship pulling up the anchors. We have other teams working on ensuring that we get the explosives in place and everything.”


Coast guard officers were there to ensure that once the explosives were ready to be detonated, onlookers kept a thousand-foot distance. But that was not necessary on Monday, as the mission was aborted. Perhaps, it was a sign that the Wit was not ready to descend to her final resting place. So, tonight she rests at her location, off the coast of Belize, where we first met her.


Andre Perez

Andre Perez, Minister of Civil Aviation and Blue Economy

“The region, internationally, the world is watching. And that is why, for what was announced today, they have backup plans and if these backup plans aren’t working, they go back to the drawing board. So they are being very cautious about it. Because, sinking this ship it must be done right, right on the money. It must be at the right spot. Everything has been calculated mathematically. So, there is no room for mistakes. So, having a delay for a week or so is no problem. I think they understand it. So, out of an abundance of caution, we do think the right way.”


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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