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Island Seal Added Wreck Alley

Wednesday, September 23 – The BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) has welcomed the latest addition to the Territory’s tourism product, specifically the addition to the dive area known as Wreck Alley.
The cargo vessel, Island Seal that capsized near Brandywine Bay since August 25, 2006 and later moved to Road Harbour, was last week taken to its final resting place, joining a number of other wrecks located at Wreck Alley.

 

Marine Marketing Manager of the BVITB Ms. Abigail O’Neal said, “Any addition that enhances the tourism product in an environmentally conscious way is always welcome.”

The Island Seal was the fourth wreck purposely sank in the area for diving and Ms. O’Neal spoke of efforts being made to promote diving there. “The Tourist Board is now working closely with the BVI Scuba Operators Association to promote Wreck Week which will be observed from June 12-19, 2010. It is part of our ongoing collaboration as we recently hosted along with the scuba operators, a press trip for ten leading dive journalists who were already impressed with the product and extremely excited about the new wreck,” she stated.

The relocation of the wreck represents the culmination of years of work, first to salvage the vessel and repair it and then to dispose of it.

 

Government secured the services of local company, Husky Salvage and Towing, which worked in close collaboration with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), BVI Tourist Board and BVI Scuba Operators Association.

According to Director of the VISR Captain Baboucar Sallah, his department in turn consulted with the Conservation and Fisheries Department. “A couple of sites were chosen and the VISR used that information to advise and request Government’s permission for the derelict to be used as a dive site or a fisheries aggregation device by sinking it at an appropriate location,” he told the Department of Information and Public Relations.

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“Initially we decided to sink it on the north of Tortola but it was subsequently decided that in light of the sea and the weather conditions and the condition of the derelict, it might be better to choose a site within the Caribbean Sea that is just south of Cooper Island where it could be used as a dive site,” Captain Sallah added.

The VISR Director described the relocation as a fairly complex operation but one which was completed without incident. “It was a difficult, intricate and complex operation to refloat the vessel, keep it buoyant and make it amenable to moving from where it was across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to the final resting place,” he stated, adding that “There is knowledge and skill in the BVI to deal with that and the operation was completed without incident.”

 

The relocation of the wreck is in keeping with Government’s commitment to appropriately manage the environment in a manner that does not compromise the ability of future generations to enjoy the same privileges we do today.

 Photos courtesy of Husky Salvage & Towing

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