Richard Branson is sinking a World War II battleship in the British Virgin Islands — to help defend the high seas.
The current project is called the Yoko Art Reef BVI, in which one of the five remaining ships that survived Pearl Harbor was sunk, grafted with a coral, and turned into a diving/education destination. The proceeds from the dive tourism business will support future maintenance and health of coral reefs; environmental DNA initiatives (a noninvasive way of studying marine environments); conservation of local marine species such as whale sharks and the Goliath grouper; and education programs for children (like swim lessons).
The YO-44, a.k.a. the Kodiak Queen (as the ship was originally nicknamed), was discovered in a shipyard in Road Town, Tortola, waiting to be demolished and used for scrap metal. After Branson was informed of the vessel, the ship was purchased and the idea blossomed for turning it into a working coral reef.
She’s now simply being called YO-44, and the dives themselves will take place in what is being called the Maverick Marine Park. Divers will not only be able to dive through the ship’s hulking hull, but also see an underwater art installation within its metal walls.
Below, watch a short video on YO-44’s construction.
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