British Virgin Islands New Dive Site
Credit: Sami Kattan and Diego Camejo; with Beneath the Waves

Richard Branson is developing a new diving destination off the coast of the British Virgin Islands that will preserve history while giving divers an underwater cultural and environmental show.

The YoKo BVIArt Reef, as the project is called, will be on a ship that is one of only five survivors from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

British Virgin Islands New Dive Site
Credit: Photo: Owen Buggy Photography and Rob Sorrenti

The vessel is known as the Kodiak Queen (or YO-44) and will be submerged off the coast of Virgin Gorda. Although it may seem counterintuitive to sink a boat that remains one of the few survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, submerging the boat will actually save it from becoming scrap metal.

The boat is expected to be submerged this month. One or two months after it is sunk, divers will be able to explore the area.

Onboard the sunken boat, divers will be able to explore a sunken art installation. The crowning gem of the collection will be a giant Kraken sculpture that will wrap its arms around the boat. Once the Kraken and other art is installed, the team behind the project will monitor the underwater reef and artificial habitat to monitor the marine health of the area.

British Virgin Islands New Dive Site
Artists of the Kraken installation, from left: Joshua Wilson, Cory Havens, Rebecca Coward, Drew Shook, Chris Plough, and Mike Cline. All of Secret Samurai Productions.
| Credit: Photo: Owen Buggy Photography
British Virgin Islands New Dive Site
An original concept sketch drawing of the project.
| Credit: Artist / Creative Director: Aydika James

“This project provides an exciting opportunity to capture people’s attention and then to refocus it on important issues facing our oceans,” Branson wrote to the New York Times in an email, “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.”

Branson is working in conjunction with several organizations to produce the diving site—including Unite BVI, a not-for-profit that empowers local children, Secret Samurai Productions, a group of artists who produce “engagement art,” and Maverick 1000, a collective of entrepreneurs who fund innovative new ideas.