Navy fuel barge YO-44, or Kodiak Queen, just got saved from being turned into scrap metal by Richard Branson and other ocean conservationist groups. One of the only five surviving ships from the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, the ship will now be used for a non-profit project that will help conserve marine life in the British Virgin Islands, as well as providing an underwater art installation for divers.
The project will commence sometime in April this year. Called Project YOKO B.V.I. Art Reef, the ship will be sunk off the coast of Virgin Gorda with an 80-foot Kraken as its passenger. The Kraken is made out of rebar and mesh, courtesy of Secret Samurai Productions. Once under the ocean, the whole self-sustaining project will provide a dive site and a rehabilitation structure for the threatened marine life in the area.
Divers will be able to experience the underwater art scene of the project two months after its sinking. The whole venture is also planned to be used as an educational program for the local children to engage them in learning how to swim and dive, so they could be much closer to the marine environment.
In a statement sent through e-mail, Richard Branson said: "This project provides an exciting opportunity to capture people's attention and then to refocus it on important issues facing our oceans - for example, the importance of addressing global warming to protect our coral reefs and the need to rehabilitate vulnerable marine species such as severely overfished grouper populations."
"This project will hopefully excite our youth here in the B.V.I. to put a mask on and to explore the magic of our underwater world and be inspired to spend their adult years advocating for how important it is to protect our reefs."
According to New York Times, this whole project was made possible through the collaboration of Richard Branson; Unite B.V.I., a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and empowering children of the islands and Secret Samurai Productions, a team of artists that seeks to solve real-world problems through art. Maverick1000, a social-justice oriented group of entrepreneurs, and Beneath the Waves, the ocean education and research nonprofit group were also involved.