in one of richard branson’s most memorable ventures of 2017, the business magnate built an 80-foot steel octopus to sink one of the remaining boats involved in the 1941 attack on pearl harbour — the kodiak queen. the historical navy ship, which was sunk off the coast of virgin gorda, is now an underwater art installation and marine life habitat.


80-foot steel octopus on the ship’s deck
image © owen buggy, via @owen_buggy_photography

 

 

the shipwreck was bought by richard branson after a former employee, british photographer owen buggy, discovered it and approached him with the idea of collaborating on a restorative art installation. the pair teamed up with unite B.V.I., a non-profit foundation in the british virgin islands, and ocean education non profit group beneath the waves to create the BVI art reef project.


the ship was a former navy fuel barge
image © owen buggy, via @owen_buggy_photography

 

 

the project sees an eco-friendly art installation that aims to create a new coral ecosystem, using sculptures like the octopus to rehabilitate native marine species. below water divers are able to swim through the structure to experience a fantasy-like environment, exploring the art located on the bow and middle section of the boat. an 80 foot sculpture of a kraken is also located on the ship’s deck, made up of rebar and mesh.


the installation hopes to create an new coral eco system
image © owen buggy, courtesy of BVI art reef

 

 

restoring the kodiak queen involved a nine-month long endeavour and funding from social justice entrepreneurial group maverick1000 and help from the artistic vision of artist group secret samurai productions. as well as finding a purpose for each area of the boat, a series of dedicated entry points were created for divers to navigate the space below sea. the construction and sinking of the boat has been filmed by rob sorrenti who will premier a full-length documentary of the project within the next month. 


the installation will be an underwater adventure spot for divers
image © owen buggy, via @owen_buggy_photography


by july, aquatic species were beginning to use the installation as a habitat 
image courtesy of BVI art reef


new life emerges on the coral kraken
image courtesy of BVI art reef


building the installation was a nine-month long endeavor
image courtesy of BVI art reef


the installation in the final days of building up
image courtesy of BVI art reef


sketches indicate the layout of the art installation in relationship to the vessel 
image courtesy of BVI art reef


plans for the kraken involved wrapping a mesh form onto the main deck and railings of the boat
image courtesy of BVI art reef

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