Lonely Planet Writer

The British Virgin Islands is about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for an underwater art installation

One of the five remaining boats involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 is about to take on a new life in the British Virgin Islands. The boat, formerly known as Navy fuel barge YO-44 and later renamed the Kodiak Queen, will be sunk off the coast of Virgin Gorda this month to become an underwater art installation and marine life habitat.

The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef
The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef

The historical World War II ship was discovered in a shipyard in Tortola waiting to be demolished for scrap metal, and it was purchased by entrepreneur Richard Branson. Various researchers, philanthropists and artists are now involved in turning what is now called YOKO into a working coral reef, which will help to rehabilitate endangered marine life in the region.

The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef
The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef

An amazing kraken has been attached to its deck, which is a sea monster with 80-foot tentacles that was made by artists out of rebar and mesh. It was made by Secret Samurai Productions, a team of artists that seeks to solve real-world problems through art.

The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef
The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef

The boat will be a combination of artificial reef and habitat, science lab and dive site. After it goes underwater, coral restoration efforts will begin using the kraken and other artwork. Also planned is the conservation of local marine species such as whale sharks and the Goliath Grouper.

The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef
The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef

Under the project known as Project YOKO B.V.I. Art Reef, it is planned that the boat will become a world-class eco-adventure dive site. Divers will be able to swim through the structure to experience a fantasy-like environment. Also planned are swim, dive and ocean education programmes for young people from the British Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef
The British Virgin Islands are about to sink a Pearl Harbor ship for a new underwater art installation. Image: BVI Art Reef

For further information, please see BVI Art Reef’s website or Facebook page.

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