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UPDATE: January 10th, 2008: Diver fears novices may find Canterbury deep trouble

A WHANGAREI diver is urging others to be careful when exploring the former frigate Canterbury, saying he has "serious misgivings" about the wreck because of its depth. Nick Padfield, an experienced diver, wrote a letter to The Northern Advocate, saying after diving the wreck he was concerned that less-experienced divers could get into difficulty.

However, dive operators and the trust which sank the frigate say it is no more dangerous than other dive sites and people just need to be sensible.

Mr Padfield wrote: "Divers are close to 30m when penetrating the wreck and their air consumption will be increased at that depth.

"I have no desire to discourage diving this site ... I do however have worries that divers will run out of air, and or, ascend too quickly and
experience decompression sickness or lung over-expansion due to complacency or being tempted to go outside their comfort zone."

Mr Padfield said the Canterbury would be an asset to the region but it needed to be dived with caution. The Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust has admitted that the frigate is sitting 6m deeper than planned.

Julia Riddle, trust secretary and director of Northland Dive, said that was because delays during the scuttling ceremony had caused the ship to move from its original mark. She said the trust was ordered to sink it by the harbour master before they were able to move it back.

Phil Andrews, manager of Paihia's Dive HQ, said it was important to appreciate the dangers of any dive site and the Canterbury was no different. Anyone who wanted to dive the wreck was encouraged to do so as part of an organised dive where there were supervisors in the water at all times.

"It's not a dive that many people would try to do off their own bat unless they were very experienced," Mr Andrews said. He said divers who wished to dive the Canterbury on a Dive HQ excursion had to first prove they had enough experience beyond having their dive ticket.

If they weren't experienced enough they could only dive the wreck with an instructor. Ms Riddle said there was an element of risk with any dive site and warned that people should not dive deeper than they were qualified to go. Divers who had an open water certificate could only dive to 18m and only those with an advanced diving certificate could descend to 30m. "It's about diving to your ability and not exceeding your certification levels," she said.

Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust spokesperson Kelly Weeds said despite being deeper then the other wrecks he didn't believe the Canterbury was any more dangerous, provided divers were sensible.

Many were choosing to stay above 27m where they were still able to explore the bridge and nearby rooms.

* Depths of popular NZ wrecks:

• Wellington: 27m

• Rainbow Warrior: 27m

• Waikato: 30m

• Tui:35m

• Canterbury:38m

UPDATE: November 27th, 2007: Frigate to make last Adelaide visit

The guided missile frigate HMAS Adelaide will make its final visit to Adelaide today before it is taken out of service. A 21-gun salute will greet the ship as it enters Outer Harbor this afternoon.

The frigate was commissioned in 1980 and has been involved in operations in the Persian Gulf and East Timor, and the rescue of yachtsmen Tony Bullimore and Thierry Dubois. The navy's commanding officer in South Australia, Commander Andrew Jackman, says the frigate will be decommissioned at its home port in Western Australia next year and then sunk off New South Wales.

"Once she has been cleaned up and ready for scuttling, she will be taken around to the east coast, where she will be sunk near Terrigal as a dive wreck and a home for fish," he said. Cdr Jackman says the ship's crew will be sad when it is decommissioned.

"Most sailors spend up to two, perhaps three years at a time on that ship," he said. "You are there with 200 of your dearest and nearest and closest friends and you have to learn to get along. "You go through a lot together, and so it does become a home, and there is a great sentimental attachment to the ship."

UPDATE: November 17/18th, 2007: Frigate Wellington's 2nd Anniversary - Over 100 divers in 2 days!

The weekend has seen 108 divers joining in on the second anniversary dive of the frigate Wellington, celebrating two years as an artificial reef and diver attraction. Wellington's Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, was the 100th diver to visit the ship, diving with others on Sunday afternoon, traversing around the bridge and midships area.

Image: Bruce Carter - NZUA

Divers over the weekend described sea anemones galore, stingray, tarakihi, red moki, bluecod, sea tulips (pictured above) and a huge variety of seaweed everywhere. The event was organised by Splash Gordon's Dive Centre, raising funds for the Life Flight Trust.


UPDATE: November 17th, 2007: Old Texas A&M Ship Becomes Artificial Reef

A World War II ship that served for decades as a training vessel for Texas A&M University sea cadets was sunk in open waters off the Texas coast Saturday, launching its new mission as an underwater habitat and diving destination.

Spectators watch as the Texas Clipper goes under in a controlled sinking near South Padre Island, Texas.

The 473-foot, 7,000-ton Texas Clipper went under the rough wind-tossed waters about 17 miles offshore at about 12:35 p.m. and took about two hours to sink, said Bob Murphy, a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife reef specialist.

The operation to turn the Texas Clipper into an artificial reef cost $4 million and has taken a decade. "For those of us who have been working on it for ten years, the delays were frustrating but today was great," Murphy said. "It was good to see her out there on site, taking on water and going down."

The Clipper, pulled by a tugboat, left its dock in Brownsville and headed into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. The departure had been delayed a couple of days because of bad weather and high winds.

The Texas Clipper, the largest vessel in the care of the department to be sunk, is expected to become an attraction for divers and fishermen, and to provide an economic boost for the South Padre Island area. The ship, which began life as the USS Queens, was commissioned as a Navy troop transport ship and was among vessels in the Pacific at the battle of Iwo Jima. It was used in the American occupation of Japan until it was decommissioned in 1946.

It then carried cargo and passengers between New York City and the Mediterranean as the SS Excambion until 1958. In the mid 1990s, the ship was decommissioned after almost 30 years as a classroom at sea for about 200 Texas A&M-Galveston students each summer. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312072,00.html

UPDATE: November 16th, 2007: Texas Clipper heads to final port of call

By LYNN BREZOSKY - San Antonio Express-news: SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — A ship that over the past six decades brought World War II troops to Iwo Jima, ferried the well-to-do across the Atlantic, and gave maritime cadets their sea legs will spend a fourth life attracting marine life and divers eager to explore it.

The Texas Clipper was scheduled to sink to its final resting place 17 nautical miles offshore and 134 feet under water today as boatloads of fans and media look on.

"You hate to think of ships being under the water, but in this case we've got a ship that's going under deliberately and tenderly and I think honorifically," said Stephen Curley, who taught freshman English on the ship during its incarnation as a training vessel for Texas A&M-Galveston.

He said he has tried to imagine people swimming through his former cabin.

The controlled sinking was delayed several days because of weather. But what is a few more days for a project that's been 10 years in the making and has cost $4 million, Texas Artificial Reef Program coordinator Dale Shively asked.

The 473-foot Texas Clipper was launched on Sept. 12, 1944, as the USS Queens, a WWII transport and attack ship.

Named originally for the New York City borough, the 473-foot long, 7,000-ton attack transport Queens was launched in 1944. Of 230 such ships built for the war, it is one of only five that remain.

The maiden voyage took officers and enlisted men through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor. In 1945, the ship carried supplies and reinforcements to Iwo Jima and took occupation troops into Sasebo, Japan, 30 miles north of where the atomic bomb had just been exploded at Nagasaki.

But the Queens was commissioned near the war's end, and one of its most memorable wartime duties was bringing thousands of troops home. Its cannons never were used. It was decommissioned in 1946 and spent a year moored in Virginia before American Export Lines refitted her and renamed her the SS Excambion, a cruise ship for cargo and passengers heading to the Mediterranean.

Jet air travel killed the business, and Excambion completed its last cruise in 1959. The ship spent seven years laid up in the Hudson River before what is now Texas A&M-Galveston took it over to train cadets for the U.S. Merchant Marine. "It was a very strange and wonderful classroom," Curley said. "They'd be going to these ports and writing about them and writing about the culture. What a rich experience. "In some cases the research was the ship itself."

Curley, who is writing a book about the ship, will be aboard one of the monitoring boats chartered to bring observers to the sinking. So will Capt. Jack Smith, who as the ship's first A&M skipper, dealt with a maiden semester full of kinks and breakdowns.

"I'm glad that it's going to continue to live on, but I'm also sad to see it go," Smith said. Artificial reefs are said to be like oases in the desert, creating a latch-on place for invertebrates such as barnacles, clams, corals and sponges. They in turn serve as a feeding ground for reef fish and transient species.

The Texas Clipper has been the Artificial Reef Program's most ambitious project, officials say. The ship sank and had to be recovered near Beaumont just as the project was getting under way and then, after being towed 350 miles to the Port of Brownsville, had to undergo a $600,000 cleanup for polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs.

But it's clean now, and if big reef projects elsewhere are a guide, officials said it could bring the South Padre Island region $30 million a year in tourist spending. Tim O'Leary, who operates a South Padre diving school and leads scuba expeditions, called the Clipper a "gift that requires no maintenance" and said divers around the world already are booking trips.

Most months, visibility at 80 feet down should be about 100 feet and it won't be long before the Clipper teems with colorful sea life, he said. "This is a big deal in the community of wreck diving," O'Leary said.

UPDATE: November 13th, 2007: Former New York Luxury Liner to Become Artificial Reef on Nov. 15

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A ship that once carried passengers in grand style from New York City to Mediterranean ports is expected to make her last voyage Thursday. Weather permitting, the former SS Excambion will be sent to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico near South Padre Island to become an artificial reef.
One thing will not go down with the ship: a valuable mural by artist Saul Steinberg, known for his whimsical cartoons in New Yorker magazine. In 1948, Steinberg drew a 20-foot wide cartoon mural for the Excambion cocktail bar. In the 1970s, the mural was obscured by overzealous interior designers. But in January 2007, as the ship was being prepared for reefing, the "lost" mural was found hiding under layers of wallpaper, paint and bolts. Some of it was peeled back to reveal lively images of passengers, ships, the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The mural is now in storage in Austin, and experts are trying to determine whether it can be restored.
The 473-foot vessel was launched on Sept. 12, 1944 as the USS Queens, a WWII transport and attack ship. She carried troops and wounded from Pacific battlefields and was the first attack transport arriving at Iwo Jima.
On June 22, 1948, the ship was renamed Excambion, one of the post-war Four Aces for American Export Lines. She carried 125 passengers on six-week round trips between New York City and ports like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples, Beirut, Alexandria, and Genoa. By 1956, due to Mid-East violence, outbound voyages attracted only about a third of the normal number of passengers, but return voyages were packed with refugee families. In 1959, Excambion was mothballed. American marine passenger service was being replaced by airplane travel.
From 1965-1994, she sailed as the USTS Texas Clipper, a Texas A&M University -- Galveston maritime training vessel. Dozens of former cadets who once sailed on the Clipper plan to be present when she goes out for the last time. Weather forecasts show good conditions for Thursday's deployment, but the situation could change.

UPDATE: November 9th, 2007: TEXAS CLIPPER SINKING DATE - 15 November 2007

On 15 November 2007, the USTS Texas Clipper will be reefed 17 nautical miles off Port Isabel / South Padre Island. Weather permitting, the ship will be towed to the reef site on 14 November and reefed mid-morning on the 15th. TPWD and Resolve Marine Services, Inc. will make a determination to proceed based on weather several days before the 14th. If the weather is not suitable for conducting the reefing on the 15th, we will wait with the ship in Brownsville, Texas until the weather calms. Reefing would then occur on the next suitable day after the 15th. Anyone who wants to view the sinking must understand that a last minute notice for reefing may be issued in the case of a weather delay. Weather forecast must meet the following contractor's rule of thumb to allow for the tow of the ship to the reef site: sea state less than 4ft and winds no greater than 10-15 knots. For images and more info on the Texas Clipper click here

UPDATE: November 4th, 2007: Canterbury frigate sinks in the Bay of Islands!

The frigate Canterbury made a spectacular exit today as it sank beneath the waves in the Bay of Islands.

See the video - click here

The former HMNZS Canterbury exploded in Deep Water Cove. Photo / Doug Sherring

The build-up was huge. Nine months of planning, a delayed explosion date, another hour's delay yesterday - but then... ka-boom. In just four minutes the ex-HMNZS Canterbury had disappeared into her watery grave.

The Bay of Islands' newest tourist attraction now lies under about 30m of sparkling water in Deep Water Cove. The resulting artificial reef is expected to boost tourism by 15-20 per cent and become a divers' playground.

Yesterday's scuttling was a happy occasion - though charged with emotion for many. The frigate had served the country for 35 years before being taken out of commission in 1995.

Commander Andrew Ford, who had brought the ship back from East Timor, said committing the vessel to the deep would ensure she served a whole new purpose for many years. "This is a very moving time for those who have served on this vessel."

More than 3000 people had served on the frigate, project manager and chairman of the Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust Richard Witehira told the Herald on Sunday. The trust had spent close to $700,000 on the project.

The scuttling would be a boon for tourism and economic development, he said . "It provides a chance for small businesses to take people down and swim through a beautiful vessel. Economic development for our people I believe is very important."

Yesterday's scuttling was a grand occasion, attracting a spectator flotilla of 300 to 400 boats, including several large hospitality launches. Helicopters buzzed overhead, as the official detonation time of 2.30pm came and went while last-minute safety checks were made to ensure no one was within the 500m safety exclusion zone.

Local kaumatua, Northland MP Dover Samuels, media and special guests with strong ties to the ship were allowed on board for a prayer ceremony before detonation. Inside, the Canterbury smelled of diesel, its walls spotted with graffiti.

The engine room, galley and shell room had already been carefully flooded and holes had been cut into its sides, said chief firing officer Keith Simpson. This ensured the explosives imported from the United States would cause as little damage as possible to the frigate as it fell to the sea floor.

UPDATE: November 3rd, 2007: The old navy ship Canterbury has been scuttled as a dive wreck in the Bay of Islands.
The frigate, which led New Zealand's official protest against the French nuclear tests at Mururoa atoll in the 1970s, was sunk at a depth of 28 metres near Cape Brett. Thousands turned out to watch the event on Saturday. Maori elders held a farewell prayer service on board the Canterbury before it was sunk.

Police divers will check the wreck to ensure it has settled safely for diving. Sink time - 2min 53secs, 3rd Nov, 2007
UPDATE: October 31st, 2007: The Fighting TEMERAIRE (CANTERBURY) tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up (sunk)

Some of you will recognize the title of what may be the most famous of all English paintings. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can easily find it online. While I admire Turner as one of the few great originals who also managed to be financial successes in their own lifetimes, I don’t think ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ can compare with many of his other works. My two favorites are probably ‘Sunrise with Sea Monsters” and ‘Yacht Approaching the Coast’, though there are many, many wonderful Turners.

The photo above is a modern variation on the theme. HMNZS CANTERBURY was towed from Opua Wharf yesterday morning to Deep Water Cove near Cape Brett, where she will be sunk Saturday morning, 3rd Nov, to become NZ's latest dive site.

New Zealand is becoming skilled at this. The RAINBOW WARRIOR, refloated after being sunk by the French in Auckland, was resunk in the Cavalli Islands twenty miles north of here; and another retired New Zealand Navy frigate, the former HMNZS Wellington, was sunk off the south coast of Wellington City a couple of years ago.

Nevertheless there was last minute panic when someone decreed that twenty-two additional holes had to be cut in the hull last weekend. Once cut these holes had then to be covered with plywood for insurance purposes during the ten mile tow to the ship’s final resting place, where the plywood would have to be removed. Sinking ships in peacetime is more complicated than in war. Source: http://inthepresentsea.com/blog/2007/10/31/opua-the-fighting-temeraire-canterbury-tugged-to-her-last-berth-to-be-broken-up-sunk/

UPDATE: October 26, 2007: Navy vessel WELLINGTON to be launched tomorrow

The new HMNZS Wellington will be launched in Melbourne tomorrow, named after the former Wellington, a Leander Class Frigate that is now a living reef and diver attraction of Island Bay, Wellington. The second of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s two new offshore patrol vessels will be launched in Melbourne tomorrow, Defence Minister Phil Goff announced. The 85 metre-long vessel, named WELLINGTON, is to be launched by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, in Williamstown, Melbourne.

Phil Goff said: “The event is another significant milestone for Project Protector – the Labour-led Government’s $500 million investment in the Navy – and an important day for New Zealand. The WELLINGTON’s sister ship OTAGO was launched in November 2006, and the Multi Role Vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY was commissioned into operational service in June this year.

“WELLINGTON and OTAGO have been specifically designed to undertake a range of tasks. They are three-quarters the length of an ANZAC frigate, with the same 6000-mile range, are helicopter capable, ice strengthened and are able to carry 30 troops.

“Tasks will include patrolling New Zealand’s Economic Exclusion Zone, including operations in the Southern Ocean, border protection, supporting counter terrorism missions and enhancing New Zealand’s presence in the Pacific. With periodic security issues arising in the Pacific region, HMNZS CANTERBURY and the two offshore vessels will be especially important assets.”

Phil Goff said Project Protector, which also includes four inshore patrol vessels being built in Whangarei, is one of the largest projects of the Labour-led Government’s Defence Long Term Development Plan to rebuild and re-equip the New Zealand Defence Force.

“The project also provides significant opportunities for New Zealand industry. Under the contract with Tenix Defence Pty Ltd, New Zealand companies will provide at least $110 million of work for these vessels.

“Tenix Shipbuilding New Zealand, in Whangarei, also constructed two sets of bridge and helicopter hanger modules, which were barged across the Tasman in June of this year, and are now fitted to WELLINGTON and OTAGO.”

WELLINGTON will remain in Williamstown for fitting out, trials and crew training with delivery and commissioning into service with the Royal New Zealand Navy in the latter half of 2008, Mr Goff said.

UPDATE: October 23, 2007: Texas Clipper to go down Nov 15th!

GALVESTON — The long-awaited sinking of the Texas Clipper is slated to take place Nov. 15, weather permitting.

The 473-foot ship will be towed 17 miles off the cost of South Padre Island and sunk. From 1965 until 1994, the historic ship carried students from Texas A&M University at Galveston around the world as they studied oceanography, maritime science and marine biology. The ship will go to its final resting place in 134 feet of water.

The Clipper was slated to be sunk in April, but it took longer than expected to clean the vessel well enough for it serve as an artificial reef. “We didn’t know the extent of the PCBs until we started to remove them,” said John Embesi, a marine biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program.

In addition to removing pollutants, workers also had to cut off the ship’s mast to ensure that at its highest point it would be at least 50 feet underwater. What’s more, workers cut openings in the hull to give wildlife — and wayward divers — additional routes of escape. As an artificial reef, the state hopes the ship will attract sea life, which will in turn attract scuba divers and fishermen. Mooring buoys will be attached to the ship, Embesi said.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Brownsville have installed steel plates they’ll use to observe the development of marine life on the Clipper once it’s sunk. “We’ll monitor what biological organisms are growing and how fast they’re growing,” said Dale Shively, coordinator of the artificial reef program.

When the Clipper goes down to the bottom of the ocean, a lot of history will go down with it. In World War II as the USS Queens, it ferried wounded troops from the battlefield. After the war, the ship became the SS Excambion, one of four luxury liners known as the Four Aces.

As workers prepared the Clipper for sinking, they discovered a treasure from that period. It was a mural by New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg — one of the only large pieces he was known to have done. The mural was painstakingly removed and stored as state officials decide what next to do with it. The total cost to sink the Clipper is about $4 million, Shively said. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Clipper

UPDATE: October 17, 2007: New date for frigate sinking

The former NZ Navy frigate Canterbury will now be scuttled as a diving and marine tourism attraction in Northland on Saturday, November 3.

The trust behind the project has confirmed the new date after it postponed the frigate's scheduled sinking just inside the entrance to the Bay of Islands last Saturday due to forecast poor weather and related safety issues.

The 113-metre Canterbury will be sunk in Deep Water Cove by a series of explosive charges but it must be correctly positioned in a wind of less than 15 knots for it to hit the seabed in a pre-planned location.

UPDATE: October 10, 2007: Advanced electronics “Virus” celebrity ship to become $6 million Key West reef
It’s not likely anyone would have thought the Cold War missile and NASA spacecraft tracking ship the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg would end up like this: the second largest vessel ever intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef. But that’s what it will become next spring when artificial reef experts Reefmakers will sink the 523-foot ship 140 feet of water off of Key West, Fla.

The Vandenberg had more than its 15 minutes of fame. Aside from playing a key role in the Cold War, it also had a major role in the 1999 movie “Virus, ” which starred Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland. Ironically in the movie the ship was portrayed as a Russian research vessel “bristling with high-tech radar, electronics and other wonders.”

The ship was built as the General Harry Taylor during World War II and was outfitted with all manner of satellite and communications equipment and renamed in 1963. Cleaning and sinking the Vandenberg will cost nearly $6 million. Key West city officials are planning a full week of activities leading up to the sinking which is scheduled for next May.

The largest ship ever scuttled for an artificial marine habitat is the USS Oriskany, an 888-foot Navy aircraft carrier sunk in May 2006, 21 miles southeast of Pensacola, Fla. To date, the second largest vessel, the 510-foot landing ship dock Spiegel Grove, was scuttled in May 2002 about six miles off Key Largo. Once sunk the ship will become an enormous artificial reef expected to attract marine life, in addition to divers as the tops of some of the satellite dishes will only be 40ft down, researchers say. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/20435

UPDATE: Wednesday October 10, 2007: Sinking of frigate delayed by weather!

Bad weather has delayed the sinking of the navy's last steam warship as a dive attraction in the Bay of Islands.

Controlled explosions were to have blown about 12 holes in the hull of the 3000-tonne Leander Class frigate, the former HMNZS Canterbury (F421), in Deep Water Cove near Cape Brett at the entrance to the Bay of Islands on Saturday. However, a bad weather forecast would have made it too dangerous for the many small boats expected to witness the sinking, said the chairman of the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust, Richard Witehira.

He also said the weather in the last day or two meant it was too risky for a tug to tow the 37-year-old ship to Deep Water Cove from Opua where it was being stripped of salvageable items and cleaned of contaminants so it would be environmentally safe for sinking. "I am very, very disappointed but you can't sacrifice safety just to achieve what we want to achieve. "The gods have not been kind to us," Mr Witehira said. The ship was now likely to be sunk later this month or early next month.

Canterbury was the last steam warship in the navy when it was taken out of commission and it would join its sister ships, Waikato off Tutukaka and Wellington at Island Bay, as dive attractions. The ship was expected to add millions of dollars to the tourist economy of Northland as divers did a package tour, taking in Waikato, the former navy oceanographic ship Tui just north of Tutukaka, Canterbury and the Rainbow Warrior in Matauri Bay. - NZPA http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10469067

UPDATE: 3rd October: Teenager to scuttle navy vessel
A teenager has won the rights to sink HMNZS Canterbury on October 13. Fourteen-year-old Lucy Hamnett of Opua will press the button to send the 3182 tonne warship to the bottom of Deep Water Cove to create an artificial reef after her father won the unique opportunity at a charity auction.

The Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust has spent $600,000 stripping and cleaning the ex-navy frigate in preparation for the scuttling. A further $80,000 needs to be raised in order to sink the frigate by the deadline.

"Despite this, the Trust is confident we will meet these costs," says chairman Richard Witehira. "It's unfortunate the Far North District Council doesn?t have the funds to help us out, though they have helped us in every way they can by dropping the usual fees involved." HMNZS Canterbury will be sunk using a special form of detonation called Shaped Linear Charge, which had to be specially imported from the USA.

The detonation will have the effect of an implosion so as not to disturb dolphins resting in the vicinity. The Department of Conservation is still considering the effect this will have on the environment. The frigate will remain in sole ownership of the Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust after the sinking to ensure that profits made will be put back into the community.

"The intention of sinking the frigate is to provide employment for the local hapu," says Mr Witehira. The trust is responsible for the area 500 metres around HMNZS Canterbury, including the beach and is currently in the process of applying for a ban of all fisheries above the artificial reef and a possible ban of fisheries in the vicinity. The implosion will take place at 2pm on October 13. Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/northland/4224461a22378.html

UPDATE: 15th Sept: Barrow-built destroyer to be scuttled!
A BARROW-built fighting ship which the Argentineans couldn’t sink during the Falklands War looks set to have met its match. But instead of being sunk by the enemy, HMS Cardiff looks set for oblivion thanks to its own countrymen. For the Type 42 destroyer is poised to become a seabed grotto, languishing in Davy Jones’s Locker for generations of divers to explore its Barrow craftsmanship, and for marine life to live in.

HMS Cardiff is one of three withdrawn Type 42 destroyers being earmarked to help create a 12-ship super reef off the south coast of England. The ship, launched in 1974, will be scuttled if the plan to create the seabed reef goes ahead.

The initial stage of the reef plan would involve stripping then sinking a first ship to a depth of 100ft, a mile offshore in Seaford Bay, East Sussex. The plan is being pushed by Seaford Bay Town Council and was triggered by a smaller project in Plymouth, where a former Royal Navy frigate, Scylla, was sunk in 2004 to encourage marine life and provide an attraction for divers. It has brought income worth £1m a year to the town.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “In years gone by, vessels have gone to scrapyards, but there are intrinsic costs involved with this that have been going up over the years.

“Sinking them for recreation purposes has now emerged as a realistic option.” The Sub Aqua Association welcomed the plan. It said Britain already had successful diving sites, but wrecks from the two world wars were now deteriorating.

The three destroyers are the ex-Falklands War veterans Cardiff, Glasgow, and Newcastle. They are currently awaiting disposal by the MoD. They will cost £300,000 each to buy, but an estimated £1.5m will have to be spent on each of them to remove any hazardous materials.

HMS Cardiff, with its sea dart missiles, became a casualty of defence cuts in 2005. It had seen action in the Gulf, the Falklands and the Adriatic and hunted Caribbean drug runners. The blackest moment in Cardiff’s career came in a sad “blue on blue” incident during the Falklands War in 1982. Due to a mix up between the army and the navy, a sea dart missile shot down a British Army air corps Gazelle helicopter by mistake, killing the four occupants.

UPDATE: 13th Sept: Sunken boats to become home for fish

BY KAUSTUV BASU: Two abandoned boats, eyesores on the Indian River Lagoon for years, were towed 20 miles off Port Canaveral Wednesday and sunk in an effort to create an underwater artificial reef.

Another abandoned boat was deposited in the area late last month. The steel boats will become part of a reef 125 feet beneath the water which should attract smaller fish seeking shelter. This in turn will attract bigger fish such as flounder, grouper and snapper, making it an ideal spot to fish, said Matt Culver, Brevard County's boating and waterways program coordinator.

Fish are expected to inhabit the boats in a matter of months, Culver said. The operation was part of a county plan to remove about 70 derelict vessels clogging the Indian River since the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes. Fifty have been removed so far. "The vessels had been cleared by the Coast Guard to be sunk," he said. "There were no contaminants like gasoline or refrigerants."

Capt. Kevin Miller of Absolute Marine Towing and Salvage Inc. said it was a perfect and clear day to sink the boats. "Normally we salvage sunken boats," Miller said. "This was the other way around." Absolute Marine was recently awarded the $275,000 contract by the county to remove abandoned watercraft.

Most of the costs are being covered by a $200,000 grant by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county is spending about $30,000. Sinking the boat in August took more than an hour. There was no such problem Wednesday, as both vessels -- a 72-foot steel hull boat and a 40-foot boat -- sank within 15 minutes.

UPDATE: Sep 10th: Britain to sink ships for dive site
BRIGHTON & HOVE, England -- Several Royal Navy warships will soon be scuttled off Britain's southern coast as part of an effort to create an artificial dive site. The Sunday Telegraph reported that if the ambitious plan from the Seaford Town Council is successful, the sunken ships could represent part of the largest artificial dive site in the world. To see the full article here Click Here

UPDATE: Sep 8, 2007: Pieces of warship up for sale

The group planning to turn the Navy's last steam-run warship into a diving attraction have come up with an explosive way to raise money for the operation.
The Frigate Canterbury is set for a watery grave in the Bay of Islands and an online auction will determine who will send it there.

The scavenging has begun and every detachable and sellable item is up for grabs. "Everything is for sale really. I mean, if you fancy a gauge or a tap it's all yours for a fee," says Deb Ryder. Even the right to blow up the ship is up for grabs.

It is hoped the online auction will help the volunteer organisation cover the huge costs of turning the ship into a dive destination. "We really, really need donations. We still need at least $80,000 to get this sunk so we are not in debt," says Ryder. Norm Greenall has been with the Canterbury from the beginning.

"For someone who hasn't worn a suit in 10 years, I haven't done too bad," says Greenall. He was part of her construction team in the 70s, served on board her for years and it is now up to him to finally lay her to rest.

"It was a very big piece of my life. I had to change my wedding date to go over there with my new wife, so it was basically a two-and-a-half-year honeymoon," he says. Greenall says sinking the old girl will be like the death of a loved one. But he will never forget life on board, even the nuclear tests near Mururoa were part of work on the ship.

"You just saw a mushroom just above the clouds. It probably wasn't one of the best trips in my life because the weather wasn't all that flash," says Greenall. He is hoping the weather will be perfect when it comes to finally laying the 2,000 tonne ship to rest in the Bay of Islands next month. (See the related video here http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/1337637 )

UPDATE: 15th August, 2007: New attraction for divers

Divers will have a new ship to explore after the scuttling of the Armed Forces of Malta’s old East German Patrol boat P-29, off Cirkewwa on Tuesday morning.

Nothing much is happening in Malta around the Santa Marija festivities and some might say it is a coincidence or providence to see that a military vessel has been deliberately sunk for leisure activities. Perhaps it is quite fitting in today’s spirit of peace and solidarity in Europe to unwittingly mark and commemorate Operation Pedestal in this manner. Many lives and ships were lost during this operation to bring much needed food and fuel to the people of Malta during its darkest hours in 1942.

People are sure to agree that the sinking of this military boat for diving purposes cements our common will to avert conflict and work together in peace to strive for mutual gain within the borders of the European Union. The patrol boat, which is 52 metres in length, 7.2 metres wide and 16 metres high, was donated by the Armed Forces of Malta at the request of the Malta Tourism Authority. The scuttling was approved by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority earlier this month.

The patrol boat was scuttled next to the tugboat Rozi, sunk in 1991 not far from a statue of Our Lady and a galleon anchor, off Cirkewwa. The site is well known for diving and the old patrol boat should add to its popularity with both locals and foreigners. Cirkewwa is also the site of the “Arch”, a remarkable geographical feature. In addition to these boats, there are others in various areas,including the Maltese Falcon and old Gozo Channel ferries such as the Xlendi.

The scuttling operation involved the pumping of water into the boat, until it was sunk completely to a depth of 35 metres. The scuttling of the vessel attracted a number of people on boats to the scene to watch the event. The operation was handled by the Armed Forces of Malta.

UPDATE: 11th August, 2007: Wreck of H.M.A.S. Sydney Found Off Western Australia

THE 66-year search for the wreck of HMAS Sydney, on which 645 Australians lost their lives, is almost certainly over. A group of West Australians using just a grappling hook and an underwater camera last weekend found what they are sure is the Sydney, which sank after a battle with the German raider Kormoran on November 19, 1941.

Their video film shows scenes of tangled wreckage over a vast expanse of deck, much longer than any other vessel known to have sunk in the area. The search team believe a series of details clearly visible on their video - decking bolts, extensive radio aerials, steam tubes and signs of massive damage - all point to the Sydney. The wreck is off Cape Inscription on the northern end of Dirk Hartog Island in about 150 metres of water.

Phil Shepherd, an amateur researcher who has been intrigued by the Sydney's fate for 61 years, since he saw a lifeboat from the Kormoran (which also sank in the battle), said last night it was unlikely the wreck could be anything else. "I've always wanted to find out where the souls of those sailors lay for all the people who have grieved over the years," Mr Shepherd said. "I've got a family member there too.

"This is a sacred site and a war grave - probably our most important war grave. We hope we can give the families some closure knowing where their people are and where they can place some flowers."

Mr Shepherd, who has been involved in other groups searching for the Sydney, said that despite the rudimentary nature of the video, it provided strong evidence supporting his contention. "Sydney had a huge aerial system for its wireless telegraphy, and we think we're seeing that on the video," he said.

"There are bolts sticking out of the deck, lots of steam pipes and tangled wreckage. The bolts are important because we know the Sydney had timber decking that was tied down by the bolts. "You would not expect that sort of damage from anything that had just sunk. It is inconsistent with it being anything else, like a merchant ship.

"I knew the Sydney was flattened by the Kormoran by gunfire. She caught fire because of the wooden decking. We believe she took a torpedo and was down by the bow and yawing. "I became more convinced when I saw all these halyards and what looked like aerial wires with insulators strewn over the debris, over railings. It looked like the mast had been shot down. All of this convinced me it wasn't an ordinary vessel.


UPDATE: 8th August, 2007: Former warship HMAS Brisbane attracts divers in droves

The former warship HMAS Brisbane is being heralded by scuba divers as one of the top wreck dives in Australia and is gaining an international reputation for its dive qualities, Environment Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr said today.

Ms Nelson-Carr said last week marked the 2nd anniversary of the sinking of the Ex-HMAS Brisbane navy ship in waters off the Sunshine Coast. "As at the 30th June 2007, over 10,700 divers from Australia and around the world have dived on the shipwreck, providing a significant boost to the local tourism industry and economy," Ms Nelson-Carr said. "Extra dive boat operations and spending by visiting divers on meals, accommodation, flights and local travel is conservatively estimated at more than $3 million." Decommissioned by the Commonwealth in 2001 and received by the Queensland Government in 2003, the 133m ship has transformed from an iron hulk into a thriving sub-tropical marine ecosystem that underpins a growing dive tourism industry on the Sunshine Coast.

Ms Nelson-Carr said Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service managed the project and considerable efforts were made to prepare the ship for sinking and select the final scuttling location, to ensure that there were no impacts on sensitive marine habitats. "Following the sinking, a 35 hectare area incorporating the wreck was dedicated as the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park to help ensure that the cultural values of the site are protected and managed into the future," Ms Nelson-Carr said. "The project has also boosted local marine biodiversity, with the wreck now covered in marine growth and a myriad of marine life. The site has also become a focus of attention for educational and research institutions. The University of the Sunshine Coast and the Queensland Museum have already undertaken a survey of marine flora and fauna colonisation of the wreck, with funding from the QPWS. The QPWS is encouraging further research, including a proposed socio-economic study of the benefits to the community from creation of the dive site."

UPDATE: 7th August, 2007: Warships to be sunk as Sussex attraction
By Ruth Lumley: Navy warships could be sunk off the Sussex coast to create giant artificial reefs for divers.
Businessman Anthony Fowler has unveiled plans to sink retired Royal Navy vessels in Seaford Bay to develop an underwater tourist attraction. He has handed a 60-page dossier on his scheme to Seaford Town Council to ask them to evaluate the merits and possible funding of the proposals, which are similar to those already in place off the Devon coast. After six years of preparatory work HMS Scylla, a 2,500-tonne ex-Royal Navy frigate, was scuttled near Plymouth Hoe to create the first artificial reef in Europe. The reef cost about £1 million to develop but recoups £1 million a year in tourism revenue.

Mr Fowler has been in contact with the project director from Plymouth and hopes to bring him to Seaford next month to give a presentation on the existing scheme. Seaford town clerk Leonard Fisher has completed a report on the proposals for councillors to consider which reveals there is no council money available to assist the project.

The report, which will be considered at a meeting on Thursday, continues: "This proposal has huge implications for the town. Key groups such as the Environment Agency, the Newhaven Community Development Association, SEEDA, Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council would all have views on this proposal, as would the residents of Seaford." Padraig Hurlihy(CORR), the South East co-ordinator for the 2012 Games for SEEDA and Sport England, said: "We have not had the chance to look at the proposals in detail.

"But sporting facilities are very good economic multipliers and generators so we certainly encourage people to invest in sports facilities. "This particular proposal is like one they have just done in Plymouth and I would think with an innovative idea like this that maybe we should wait and see how it goes there before we start sinking ships across the country. "It is a fantastic idea and if it works we could propose it in a number of cases. "We would also want to take advice on its affect on the eco-system from the Environment Agency and its impact on the marine ecology.

"Artificial reefs constructed in the Mediterranean have been successful in bringing marine life back but if you were to sink 30,000 tonnes of steel somewhere where there is already a thriving eco-system it could have a negative effect." A spokeswoman for Lewes District Council said: "We would consider any planning application made in connection with the proposal and consult with any other organisations and local residents as required within the statutory consultation period."


UPDATE: 3rd August: Artificial reef brimming with life
Nearly 70 species of fish are finding a home in the artificial reef, giving fishermen and divers an excellent opportunity.
The former St. Lucie County Civic Center, battered by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne three years ago, now sits 57 feet deep on the ocean floor southeast of Fort Pierce Inlet. The rubble of a concert hall that once played host to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash doesn't look like much; it landed helter-skelter on a previously sunken barge. But last January's deployment now attracts a whole new audience -- scuba divers and large schools of fish. ''We are trying to create additional recreational opportunities for anglers and divers,'' said Jim Oppenborn, St. Lucie County's artificial reef chief. Dropping down to the man-made reef, a diver immediately is enveloped by a shimmering curtain of baitfish -- sardines, pilchards, and glass minnows -- that flow and swirl away from marauding blue runners, bonito and Spanish mackerel.

Lumbering placidly around the structure are approximately a dozen Goliath grouper, some as large as 300 pounds. The huge fish emit a deep warning boom that sounds like a bass drum if a human gets too close. Milling around with no apparent purpose is a large school of snook. An estimated 10-pounder with a hook lodged in the corner of its jaw lay on its side amid the rubble, apparently exhausted from a tussle with a fisherman. When a diver gently sets it upright, it shakes its head as if to clear it and swims off as if nothing was wrong. The community on the outskirts of the primary underwater drama is diverse: sheepshead, porkfish, barracuda, spotted eagle rays, Southern stingrays, gray snapper, Atlantic spadefish and even a mean-looking Cubera snapper. According to Oppenborn, nearly 70 species have been recorded on the county's artificial reefs -- 23 of them in the snapper-grouper complex, which is considered overfished by marine scientists.

''We are giving them somewhere to live,'' he said. The civic center was the eighth artificial reef put down off St. Lucie County since the program was reinstated in 2005. In June, the number rose to 12 when 2,000 of tons of railroad ties and concrete culverts were sunk at four sites near the World War II wreck of the Amazone south of Fort Pierce Inlet.

Despite their recent status, those structures already have attracted large schools of fish. ''A lot has to do with the relief,'' said Lee Harris, a professor of ocean engineering at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. ``The more relief, the more varied the fish types you get.'' Oppenborn and Harris were encouraged to find juvenile grouper on one of the structures sunk in May 2006.

''We're trying to improve survival, growth and reproduction on the reefs,'' Oppenborn said. ``If we can show spawning on our reefs, it will be great impetus to put down more.'' He's thinking along the lines of tug boats, large steel bank safes and retired military tanks, such as the ones sunk off Miami Beach in the 1990s. Perhaps the Goliaths will take over as gunners' mates and boom the sound effects.

UPDATE: 2nd August: Brisbane’s best kept secret!
Brisbane’s Moreton Bay is fast becoming the new destination for scuba diving enthusiasts with a wide variety of dive sites to choose from and spectacular views to keep you amazed. More than 30,000 people learn to dive in Queensland each year and certifications achieved are through internationally recognised diver training organisations.

While the cold winter season may have put off some scuba divers, they will be pleased to know that water temperatures in the Moreton Bay range from 20-27°C throughout the year. One of the better-known dive sites in the Brisbane area is the collection of 15 vessels at the Tangalooma Wrecks on the western side of Moreton Island. Here, dives range in depth from 2-10m with an average of around 8m.

The wrecks were particularly placed to form a break wall for small boats mooring off the island and now attract an amazing amount of marine life, including wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish, yellowtail and lots of tropical fish. The Curtin Artificial Reef is located further north along Moreton off the settlement of Cowan Cowan and is a popular destination for divers with intermediate qualifications.

The Underwater Research Group of Queensland have been sinking large vessels, cars, tires and pontoons at this site since 1968, the largest being the 50m long Bremer. Most of the wrecks can be safely entered and explored, and like Tangalooma Wrecks, the reef is filled with marine life. Dive depths range from 12-30m. Other dives include the Manta Ray Bommie off the southern end of North Stradbroke Island and Cherub’s Cave near Henderson’s Rock.

The site offers dive walls, gutters, caves and pinnacles as well as over 112 coral species and 175 species of reef fish, invertebrates, turtles, stingrays, wobbegong sharks and the occasional manta ray. Other attractions include Finder’s Reef, Brisbane’s only true coral reef, which is also a fully protected marine sanctuary. For more information on diving in Brisbane and Queensland visit www.divingqueensland.com.au

UPDATE: 1st August, 2007: Ship's scuttling brings in tourism dollars
The Queensland Tourism Minister says the scuttling of HMAS Brisbane off the Sunshine Coast has raked in a million dollars in tourism revenue. The former Navy ship was sunk a year ago to create a dive site.

Desley Boyle says the artificial reef is thriving. "There is also the amazing story of the artificial reef that has grown at a great rate around the wreck, very much faster than had been predicted," she said. "It is clearly a healthy marine environment with fish, marine creatures of all kinds, corals growing rapidly." http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/qld/summer/200608/s1702482.htm

UPDATE: 29/07/07: Fishing boat leaves port on final trip
The Szap 5, which has been a fixture of Port Nelson since September 2004, has left port on its final trip.
The 59m fishing boat was arrested by the port company in April 2005 for non-payment of berthage back fees and later put up for sale to recover tens of thousands of dollars owed. Yesterday, it was towed out of Nelson towards a site off Wellington, where it will be scuttled.
Port Nelson chief executive Martin Byrne said yesterday the port company had approval from Maritime New Zealand to sink the ship in waters near Wellington where other vessels had been scuttled. "We had to get a plan signed off by the authority. We've been planning to scuttle it for some time, but have had to wait for a weather window." Byrne did not know the exact location of the scuttling, but he understood the Szap 5 would be accessible as a diving wreck. The ship was owned by Tasmanian businessman Harold Adams, and had been berthed in Nelson since September 2004.

UPDATE: 27th July, 2007: Old Navy tanker to provide a new home for fish

By Rachel Swick: Two retired vessels are now at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean where they help to improve marine biodiversity, while providing a destination for anglers and divers. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) coordinated the sinking of the 62-year-old Navy tanker YOG-93 and the 92-year-old tugboat Margaret on Wednesday, June 25 at Red Bird Reef, located 16 miles off Indian River Inlet.

“These two vessels had long and productive service on the water,” said Jeff Tinsman, environmental scientist and reef project manager for DNREC. “With their deployment on Delaware’s Red Bird Reef, they will continue their service by enhancing the reef and improving our coastal ecosystem.” Red Bird Reef, an artificial reef, was created in 1996 when the New York Transit Authority donated 619 Red Bird subway cars. The reef is now the most visited site, with more than 10,000 trips there annually. Anglers and divers can see black sea bass, summer flounder and tautog at the reef, as well as other gamefish.

“Reef construction is especially important in the Mid-Atlantic region, where the shore bottom is usually featureless sand or mud,” said Tinsman. “Recycled materials, including concrete pipe and other concrete products, ballasted tire units, subway cars and decommissioned military vehicles and vessels have been sunk off the Delaware Coast. The reef program uses differential global positioning systems to accurately place materials on the existing artificial reef.” All vessels sunk onto artificial reefs must be prepared and inspected. Both YOG-93 and Margaret were cleaned by the Dominion Marine Group to remove all greases and buoyant materials that might harm the marine environment. They were then inspected and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard before they were transported to the site, said Tinsman.

The tugboat American escorted the vessels to Delaware waters from Norfolk, Va. Prior to sinking, the boats had holes cut in them to allow water to enter all areas of the vessel. The holes also accelerate the sinking process. The YOG-93 slipped beneath the water at 6:39 p.m., while the Margaret disappeared at 8:06, said Gary Cooke of Milton, who witnessed the event.

The Margaret was built by the Staten Island Shipbuilding Company for the Erie Railroad. It was most recently used as a towboat for Moorhead City Towing in North Carolina. It was sunk in memory of Edward Hahn of Centreville, Md., who was an avid fisherman. YOG-93 was built by RTC Shipbuilding of Camden, N.J. in 1945. It was most recently used by Navy Seals for training.

There are 14 permitted artificial reef sites in Delaware Bay and coastal waters, five of which are located in federal waters. The development of artificial reefs began in 1995 to enhance marine ecosystems. Funding for the reef program comes primarily from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For more information, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw.

“Monitoring studies have shown that placement of durable, stable reef materials can result in a 400-fold increase in the amount of plankton and small baitfish available as food for larger fish,” said Tinsman. “Gamefish are attracted to baitfish, which congregate around the reef structure. These deployments help improve Delaware’s artificial reef by enhancing fisheries habitat, increasing marine biodiversity and productivity, and providing fishing and diving opportunities for decades to come.”

UPDATE: July 26, 2007 -- DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife deployed two steel-hulled vessels July 25 on Delaware’s Red Bird Reef, located 16 miles east of the Indian River Inlet. The deployment helps improve Delaware’s artificial reef by enhancing fisheries habitat, increasing marine biodiversity and productivity, and providing fishing and diving opportunities for decades to come.

“These two vessels had long and productive service on the water,” said Jeff Tinsman, reef project manager with DNREC’s Fisheries Section. “With their deployment on Delaware’s Red Bird Reef, they will continue their service by enhancing the reef and improving our coastal ecosystem.”

Red Bird Reef is Delaware's most visited reef site, supporting over 10,000 angler trips annually. It offers excellent fishing for black sea bass, summer flounder, and tautog, as well as other game fish. Monitoring studies have shown that placement of durable, stable reef materials can result in a 400-fold increase in the amount of plankton and small baitfish, available as food for larger fish. Gamefish are attracted to baitfish, which congregate around the reef structure.

One of the vessels, the tugboat "Margaret" is 92 years old and was built by Staten Island Shipbuilding Co. for the Erie Railroad. Originally powered by a double compound steam engine, the vessel is 97' long and 24' wide and weighs 171 gross tons and was subsequently repowered to a diesel engine and owned by a variety of mid-Atlantic towing companies, most recently, Moorhead City Towing, of North Carolina. The “Margaret” was sunk in memory of Edward Hahn of Centreville, Md., an avid fisherman. His family and friends provided funding for the preparation of the vessel.

The second vessel, Navy tanker "YOG-93," is 62 years old and was built by RTC Shipbuilding of Camden, N.J. in 1945, as a coastal gasoline tanker for use in the planned invasion of Japan. The ship is 180' long and 33' wide with a displacement of 1,390 tons. The tanker is a single-screw, diesel vessel, most recently used by Navy Seals in tactics training and boarding party training. The vessels were cleaned by Dominion Marine Group to remove all greases and buoyant materials that might be harmful to the marine environment. The U.S. Coast Guard inspected and approved both vessels prior to transport to the reef site. The vessels were prepared for sinking in Norfolk, Va., by cutting holes above the waterline and installing soft patches in these holes. After the vessels arrived and anchored at the site, soft patches were removed and pumps were used to initiate flooding of the interior spaces. Water poured into the cut holes and accelerated the sinking process.

Reef construction is especially important in the Mid-Atlantic region, where the shore bottom is usually featureless sand or mud. Recycled materials, including concrete pipe and other concrete products, ballasted tire units, subway cars, and decommissioned military vehicles and vessels have been sunk off the Delaware coast. The reef program uses differential global positioning system (DGPS) to accurately place materials on the existing artificial reef.
The site, known as Red Bird Reef, was developed in 1996. In 2001 the New York City Transit Authority donated 619 obsolete “red bird” subway cars to build the reef, and subsequently the site was named. Delaware has 14 permitted artificial reef sites in the Delaware Bay and coastal waters, with five of these sites located in federal (ocean) waters. Development of the sites began in 1995 as part of a comprehensive fisheries management effort by the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Delaware Reef Program. Delaware’s artificial reef program is administered by the Fisheries Section with primary funding provided through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

UPDATE: 24th July, 2007: Dollars for HMAS Canberra dive wreck
Jeff Whalley:
THE HOWARD Government has delivered $7 million towards decommissioning HMAS Canberra to create an iconic dive wreck off Point Lonsdale.

The Geelong Advertiser last month revealed that the sinking of the boat could be held up by a funding stoush between the state and federal governments. Victoria last year won the bid to have the decommissioned war ship sunk off the coast of Point Lonsdale but a row over the cost of cleaning up the ship had stalled the negotiations.

But yesterday Federal Defence Minister Brendan Nelson threw the Bracks Government overboard and commandeered the project. ``I have become concerned at the delay of the Victorian Government towards implementing this important project for the people of the Surf Coast and the associated recreational dive industry,'' Dr Nelson said. The Defence Minister said he had directed the department to assume project management responsibility

``I have also made $7 million in funding available to ensure the quickest possible schedule for the sinking of the ship,'' he said. The Federal Government originally committed $2.8 million. Dr Nelson said he had written to Victorian Premier Steve Bracks informing him of the move.

``Should additional funding be required beyond $7 million, I have requested the Victorian Government make that funding available. This is more than reasonable,'' Dr Nelson said. ``The Victorian community now expects all levels of government to co-operate and get this job done as soon as possible.'' Federal Member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur, who was instrumental in pushing for the awarding of the project to the region, embraced the decision yesterday.

``I've been working on it the last 12 months after being approached by the artificial reef society . . . there is a massive diving fraternity all over the world who will be drawn to this wreck,'' Mr McArthur said. In October last year the Commonwealth announced that Point Lonsdale had fended off nationwide bids to secure the war ship as an artificial reef.

Victoria won the bid after a hard-fought process with states such as Queensland and New South Wales furiously fighting for the predicted tourist bonanza. A study last year said the wreck of HMAS Canberra could bring more than $1 million into the Victorian economy and attract thousands of divers to the region. http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2007/07/24/5623_news.html

UPDATE: 11th July, 2007: Canterbury explosions spark emergency calls
By RICHARD EDMONDSON: A top secret military exercise on the former naval frigate Canterbury had Opua residents dialling emergency services last month when they heard loud bangs coming from the warship. A special unit of the New Zealand armed forces used the frigate, which is tied up at Opua Wharf, for personnel training on the evening of June 20.
The Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust has revealed that the noises residents heard were controlled explosions to blow off compartment doors.
Half-a-dozen residents phoned trust members, the police and coastguard about the mystery noises, says Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust spokesman Kelly Weeds. Some residents were so alarmed they went down to the wharf to investigate, but were turned away by military personnel in plain clothes when they got to the ship.
The trust was aware that the training exercise was taking place, but wasn't at liberty to say anything at the time, says Mr Weeds. "We knew about it. We were just gagged for a while."
Even last week, secrecy still shrouded the manoeuvres, which Mr Weeds was calling 'rescue exercises'. "We're not allowed to say who it was, just that it was members of the New Zealand Army."
The army asked the trust a few months ago if it could use the frigate, saying the vessel offered a once in a decade opportunity to train personnel in an authentic setting, he says. The trust would have removed the doors anyway as part of preparations to ready the vessel for sinking near Cape Brett later this year.

UPDATE: 27 May, 2007: Glug, glug tug Local officials trying to sink new wreck after four-year drought
By David Angier:
Mike Gomez, co-owner of Panama City Dive and Ski Center, says dive business has dropped off during the last couple of years because return visitors are tired of seeing the same wrecks. Dive shop owners are hopeful that will change when the 125-foot tugboat Red Sea is sunk in the gulf off Panama City Beach. In the good-old days, ships sunk regularly near the St. Andrew Bay pass to much celebration and delight. But for the last four years, the sight of an upturned prow slipping beneath the waves with a final blast of air has been missing. So have the benefits of the new dive and fishing sites offered by these scuttled wrecks.

That could change this summer as local volunteers try to raise the money needed to sink the 125-foot tugboat Red Sea for a dive and fishing location. It would be the first wreck sunk off Panama City Beach since two tugboats were dropped together in 2003. Danny Grizzard, Florida Aquatic and Marine director, said there are some roadblocks to securing the tugboat, including the $70,000 it will take to clean and prepare it for sinking. He said he’s searching for a corporate sponsor or big-money donor who’d like to put up enough money to name the wreck. The county also has to come up with the proper permit.

Grizzard said a deposit has been placed on the boat from money raised by area dive shops for new artificial reefs and $3,150 from Schooner’s Lobster Fest. He said, ideally, the tug could be sunk in 70 to 80 feet of water sometime this summer. Underwater co-op Mike Gomez, Panama City Dive and Ski Center co-owner, said dive business has dropped off during the last couple of years because return visitors are tired of seeing the same wrecks. “We in the dive industry need this a lot,” he said of the tug. Gomez said the area remains popular for dive instructors certifying students, but there are fewer add-on recreational divers who have seen all the area’s sites.

Gomez said a new wreck will bring in nine months a year of repeat business for hotels, restaurants, dive shops and stores. Gomez said plans for the Red Sea include surrounding it with rubble piles to increase fish stocks and provide a spot for fishermen. He said divers probably will scare game fish off the wreck and into the piles. Gomez said the two-prong plan has sparked the interest of shops such as Half-Hitch Tackle and Treasure Island Marina, which have offered help. The tug was built in 1970. It is 125 feet long and 32 feet wide. Gomez said if it hits bottom upright in 75 feet of water, the topmost portion should be about 45 feet down. That makes it an ideal site for recreational divers and students.

Diving interest Gomez said area dive shops chipped in $15,000 for the project, leaving $55,000 to be raised. Last year, Escambia County officials raised $1 million as a contribution to the sinking of the Oriskany aircraft carrier as an artificial reef. Since then, said Eilene Beard, Pensacola Scuba Shack co-owner, the county has received six times that amount in free publicity and already received its investment back in tourist revenue. “It’s been absolutely awesome,” Beard said. “It’s been a fantastic year.” She said her business grew two-and-a-half times over what it was the year before.

“The Oriskany is one of the best things that’s ever happened to Pensacola,” Beard said. She said she gave $25,000, and her shop gave $1,000, to the county’s $1 million contribution to the project. Before the Oriskany, Beard said, Pensacola was a “very low” dive location. “Now it is very high in the radar,” she said. Stan Kirkland, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, said the commission makes available coordinates for the state’s reefs. “People can go to our Web site and pick those up and use them,” he said.

The Oriskany isn’t the last naval ship to be sunk in state waters, he said. There’s a project under way this year to sink the Vandenberg, a 520-foot troop transport and missile tracking vessel, off Key West. He said the state no longer owns the Oriskany — it’s Escambia County’s now — but it has to conduct surveys to ensure the ship isn’t harming the environment. Kirkland said commission officers periodically remove fish from the reef for toxin testing. “They analyze the fish filets to see if there’s anything there,” Kirkland said. “I wish I had that job.”

UPDATE: 17th May, 2007. A Year After Its Sinking, Veterans Dive To Carrier Turned Reef
The Associated Press:
PENSACOLA - One year after it was sunk off Pensacola Bay, the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany is forming a carpet of soft coral, starfish and sponges.

Snapper, grouper and triggerfish swim its passageways and hatches. Men such as Thom Dietmeier who fought wars from its decks now visit the carrier on the ocean floor, leaving dog tags or other mementos of their time aboard. The Morgan Hill, Calif., veteran made his first dive to the Oriskany on Wednesday, a day before Pensacola was set to mark the one-year anniversary of the Navy's sinking of the famed Korean and Vietnam wars-era carrier.

"I knew exactly where I was when I got down there even though I hadn't been on it in so long. Seeing the POW-MIA flag on there, that was really emotional," said Dietmeier, who served on the Oriskany in 1968 and 1969. Dietmeier, 63, was a junior officer on watch when a fire aboard the ship killed 44 men, including two of his bunkmates.

A flotilla of veterans on small boats surrounded the Oriskany and saluted on May 17, 2006, when the Navy set off explosions and slowly sent the hulking carrier to the bottom. The Oriskany became the world's largest intentionally created artificial reef - sitting 24 miles off Pensacola, its flight deck about 135 feet below the ocean's surface. Weather permitting, some veterans planned to return to the waters above the Oriskany today and watch live video of divers on the carrier. A ceremonial ship's bell donated by the USS George Bush - the nation's newest aircraft carrier - and placed on the Oriskany will be tolled to mark the event.

The Oriskany was the first warship sunk under a pilot program to dispose of old naval vessels through reefing. The $20 million sinking was delayed nearly two years by hurricanes and environmental permitting problems. The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is awaiting a report from the University of West Florida next month to reveal the economic contribution of the sinking.


UPDATE: 30/04/2007: New lease of life for wreck on Wellington seafloor


MURKY DEPTHS: Diver Kelly Taylor explores the former warship Wellington, which now offers an 'extraordinary' diving experience after being sunk off the capital's coast in 2005. It went down in a ball of orange flame, and now the Wellington is sporting a rich coat of green slime. Almost 17 months after being sent to its grave off Wellington's south coast, the F69 is teeming with life.
Joanne Long, a Victoria University marine science technician, has made dives in the wreck since it was sunk in November 2005. She said a thick growth of seaweed now coated most of the ship. A sizeable school of blue cod had shifted into some of the nooks and crannies in the broken ship.
Swimming around the F69 was an extraordinary experience as the "high-energy" coastline and swarthy visibility made for an eerie underwater experience, she said. "There's no other dive like it. Parts of the boat are still very much intact but because of visibility it is very shadowy and mysterious." Ms Long said the three chunks of the ship were slowly collapsing and sinking into the sandy seafloor.
The former warship has endured its fair share of storms since being sunk. The bridge was still accessible for divers, while the gun turrets and barrels were in remarkably good shape - and made for impressive underwater photographs. By MATTHEW TORBIT - The Dominion Post

UPDATE: 19/04/2007: Washington Divers Are Pining for a Good Sunken Ship

If you've spent time on wrecks, you can't get enough of it," says enthusiast Leon Scamahorn of underwater scenes like these. "In less than five years, it's packed full of marine life." Karlista Rickerson

It's not so easy to sink an old ship in the Sound, much to the chagrin of scuba divers. By KEEGAN HAMILTON: Like sharks to the smell of blood they come, some with wallets full of money. Underwater, they also come: Pacific octopi, wolf eels, anemones, and thousands of other species. Their destinations, sea creature and scuba diver alike, are artificial reefs made from intentionally sunken ships located in the Florida Keys, Vancouver Island, the Cayman Islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and other world-class dive destinations.

A movement is under way to bring more of these soggy attractions to Seattle-area waters, but the sailing has been far from smooth. Advocates are facing a wave of problems ranging from funding hang-ups to environmental concerns. Meanwhile, Washington divers are taking their breathing tanks across the border to British Columbia, one of the global leaders in purposeful ship scuttling.

"My observation is the state seems to be nonconducive for sinking vessels in Puget Sound," says Leon Scamahorn, who runs a specialty dive equipment store in Centralia. "The state has, in the past, dumped rubble for fish habitat. I can't understand why they don't sink vessels. Florida is sinking vessels left and right."

Though several ships have accidentally sunk deep in Puget Sound, intentionally sinking them in favorable locations has long been a goal for many Washington divers. This push took its first step toward fruition late last year when, thanks to the cajoling of Washington State Scuba Alliance President Mike Racine, state Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D–Kitsap County, co-sponsored a bill asking the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to assess the feasibility of sinking a mothballed ship with hopes of spurring dive tourism in the state. What resulted was $50,000 in state funds made available for a "scoping study," to determine how much a "feasibility study" would cost.

Findings from the scoping study, submitted at the end of January, concluded it would cost the state anywhere from $1.2 million to $2.8 million just to determine whether this was a notion with which Washington should proceed. It has also become apparent that skeptics wary of environmental pitfalls, ranging from PCBs (an unseemly chemical in a ship's insulation and wiring) to potentially adverse impacts on the fragile Puget Sound ecosystem, abound.

To this end, Greg Bargmann, a marine ecosystems manager with the WDFW who has worked closely with the project, says, "One of the real problems that we have is that water doesn't exchange very much in Puget Sound. You place a ship off Seattle or Tacoma, water stays in the area for one or two weeks. It's much less in the Strait of Georgia [in B.C.]. The potential for accumulation of contaminants is greater here than it would be there."

But scientists and reef advocates from Florida and British Columbia, two of the leaders in intentionally sunken ships, are wondering what all the fuss is about. Florida already has nearly 275 mothballed ships in the water, and plans for another, the 520-foot U.S.S. Hoyt Vandenberg, to be sunk in a national marine sanctuary, one of the most strictly regulated underwater locales on the planet. The area around Vancouver Island, B.C., is a distant second, with a handful of ships sunk since the early '90s, along with a Boeing 737 submerged off the coast of Nanaimo.

"I've considered myself an environmentalist for 30 years," says Tom Maher, formerly of the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife and now the president of Marine Habitats Inc., a Florida company that sinks vessels. "I'm not a proponent of harming the environment. I wouldn't be involved if I personally thought [sinking ships] was a negative thing to do for the environment. If the ships are properly prepared, I think it's one of the best things we can do. "People in Florida and [on] the East Coast cannot fathom why there's such a reluctance to put these ships down when we all know they provide a tremendous fish habitat," he adds. "Dollar for dollar, it's probably the most effective fish habitat you could do."

Wes Roots, who's in charge of ship operations at Canadian Reef Consulting Inc., claims to have overseen every artificial reef project on the West Coast since 1994. He disagrees with Bargmann's claim that because Puget Sound is a closed body of water, it requires heightened regulation. "That may be a fisheries concern," says Roots, "but the ships are extremely well cleaned and prepared. All hazardous materials are removed. They're inspected by all agencies top to bottom with a microscope. We've had similar arguments with nongovernment organizations in the Georgia Strait, but you look at it and reefs are a hot spot in terms of biological diversity and volume. There's more diversity on ships than any of the surrounding areas."

Perhaps most puzzling about the $1 million–plus price tag attached to WDFW's feasibility study is the fact that much of the research for which the report calls has already been done. The Environmental Protection Agency, partnering with the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Coast Guard, and others, standardized regulations for sinking ships last year in a 75-page report that addressed every conceivable concern. And in 2004, while assessing whether to sink the U.S.S. Oriskany—which had PCB levels exceeding EPA standards—in Florida, the U.S. Navy did a study of ships accidentally sunk off the coast of South Carolina that were "laden with PCBs" and found the effects to be negligible.

Bargmann, however, voices numerous concerns with sinking ships: liability issues, asbestos, lead-based paint, damage to the sea floor and the species that inhabit it, and lack of suitable open space on the bottom of Puget Sound. He's also dubious about PCBs, an organic compound used as a flame retardant that can potentially cause liver damage and anemia in humans and animals alike. "The real concerns are contamination issues and local biological effects," Bargmann says. But beyond the perceived environmental pros and cons, one nearly universally accepted theory stands: Sinking ships in Puget Sound would provide a huge boost in terms of tourism dollars.

In 2004, Canadian researchers from Simon Fraser University found that diving was a $12.4 million dollar industry in British Columbia, with $4.3 million of that coming from tourists—including 10 percent from the Pacific Northwest. And the WDFW scoping study noted that previous looks at Florida's scuba industry found nonresident divers spent upwards of $200 per day when visiting. Maher, who conducted a similar study assessing the economic impact of sunken ships in Florida, says, "I'd love to see Washington compete with British Columbia in terms of putting ships down because the Canadians are getting all the [tourism] money."

Describing the allure of wreck diving, Scamahorn says, "The diving is phenomenal. If you've spent time on wrecks, you can't get enough of it. In less than five years, it's packed full of marine life. Anemones, fish, everything—it's very cool to look at. When you see a wreck on the bottom, it's photographic. You can swim through the bowels of the ship, through the hatches, down the stairs." But at the moment, Washington's project is virtually dead in the water. With the scoping study complete and its $1.2 million minimum recommendation tallied, Sen. Rockefeller says no new state funds will go toward the project in the foreseeable future.

"There is no money for feasibility studies at this point," Rockefeller says. "I've not made any requests for this. I don't see much point in going forward with a full study when we're not sure that this is an environmentally safe thing to do. We need to get answers to environmental questions." But according to Maher, contamination is a moot point if ships are prepped according to procedure. "Theoretically, there shouldn't be any contaminants on the vessel when they're sunk," he says. "That's why they cost so much to clean and put down in the first place."

Both Racine and Rockefeller hope WDFW will incrementally tackle environmental concerns associated with the request. "The senator asks [that] we bite off chunks of it, in $100,000 to $200,000 increments, to look at biological or chemical contamination issues," says Racine. "If, after that, we can't address those [issues] adequately, we won't proceed." When asked when he expects to see his ultimate goal of a newly sunken ship on the floor of Puget Sound, Racine replies, "I'm not holding my breath."

UPDATE: 09/04/2007: Frigate to find final resting place in October

The HMNZS Canterbury is now at Opua in the Bay of Islands. File Photo / Greg Bowker
The charitable trust that has taken the decommissioned Navy frigate, the HMNZS Canterbury, to the Bay of Islands to sink as a dive attraction has decided it will be scuttled on Saturday, October 20 - two days before the 36th anniversary of the frigate's commissioning in 1971. The 113m Canterbury, now being stripped at Opua wharf in preparation for its new role, will be sunk in Deep Water Cove near the entrance to the Bay of Islands. About $400,000 is expected to be raised from the sale of scrap metal from the ship and so far, seven truckloads of metal have gone to a Whangarei-based scrap buyer.

An 18-strong wrecking crew is concentrating initially on recovering high value non-ferrous metal such as copper in the vessel's kilometres of wiring. Stripping operations manager Norm Greenall says a recent public open day produced offers to buy a number of items including the entire captain's galley, dials, gauges, telephones and signs. The Canterbury's propeller has already sold for $20,000 and there is strong demand for the crew's aluminium gear lockers which are priced at $25 each.

The trust will raise a total of about $650,000 for the entire venture. This includes around $85,000 to cover the expected costs of bringing in an overseas expert to scuttle the ship and the explosives needed to send the Canterbury to its final resting place. Licences are needed to import the explosives and the trust is negotiating with the Canadian expert who was in charge of scuttling the HMNZS Wellington several years ago.

UPDATE: 04/04/2007: Warship headed for the deep

HIGH AND DRY: The HMNZS Canterbury is being stripped down before its sinking at Deep Water Cove, in the Bay of Islands, as a diving attraction.
Photo: JOHN SELKIRK/Dominion Post

The navy's last steam warship will begin its final voyage this year when it is sunk in the Bay of Islands. Ian Stuart of NZPA talks to a man who already has three navy ship notches on his belt. Former navy man Norm Greenall has developed a reputation around navy ships he is a little unsure about. At a reunion of his former navy colleagues at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland recently he learnt of an email circulating about him. "They said to watch out for this Norm Greenall fellow. He has sunk more of our navy ships than the enemy did in the whole of the Second World War," he said.
Later this year he will add the fourth Royal New Zealand Navy ship to his tally when carefully placed plastic explosives are simultaneously set off to blow about 12 holes in the thin steel hull below the waterline of the navy's last steam warship, the Leander-class frigate Canterbury. The water pressure will force the one-metre by one-metre steel plates cut by the explosive charges back inside the hull and within two minutes the 37-year-old frigate will sink 28 metres to its new home as a dive attraction on the seabed at Deep Water Cove, near Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands. A former navy chief petty officer, Mr Greenall, 66, has been preparing the ship for sinking since it arrived last month at the same wharf at Opua, Northland, where he also prepared a sister ship, the former HMNZS Waikato, for sinking at Ngunguru, near Tutukaka, north of Whangarei, in 2000.
He also took on the same role for HMNZS Wellington, which was sunk at Island Bay in Cook Strait in 2005, and the navy research ship, HMNZS Tui, which was sunk just north of Tutukaka in 1999. The 2900-tonne Canterbury was bought by the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust for $1 from the Government earlier this year and for the next six months will be at Opua as a team of Work and Income Task Force Green workers remove contaminants, ferrous metal, and anything of value before it is sunk, probably at the end of winter.
Mr Greenall was at the Glasgow yard of Yarrow and Co in Scotland in 1969 when the keel was laid for the 2900-tonne ship. He was there for the building and fitting out of the ship and served three years as a shipwright after it was launched in 1970. He said it was always a happy ship.
"Even though now I am pulling it to bits, I feel comfortable on it." After it was commissioned in 1971 he sailed to New Zealand on the delivery trip in 1972 and was on board when the then Labour government sent MP Fraser Coleman on it to Mururoa Atoll the following year to protest at French nuclear tests. "He (Coleman) was good because he always came to our mess to drink his scotch," Mr Greenall said.
In the 1970s the navy still issued its sailors with a tot of rum, which was one eighth of a pint of overproof spirits. It was watered down for junior ratings who drank it under supervision as soon as it was issued, but petty officers were issued with neat rum. Britain's Royal Navy phased out the tot in 1970, but in New Zealand the last tot was issued in 1990. The rum is still issued on special occasions when the "splice the mainbrace" order is issued.
Mr Greenall said the Mururoa trip was not a highlight of his navy career. "We had people up there we were rescuing off unseaworthy yachts that should never have been there. Good on them for protesting but it put our guys' lives at risk." The crew was not allowed ashore at Mururoa and stayed outside the 12 nautical mile limit.
In spite of his ties to the old ship, he felt comfortable preparing it for sinking, he said, though he would probably find a quiet corner to be alone to deal with the emotions of sending a ship he served on for three years to the bottom of the sea. "I am not sure how I will be able to handle it," said Mr Greenall, a 30-year navy veteran. As a chief petty officer (shipwright) he was responsible for the hull maintenance and its fittings and said he knew the ship inside out.
"At this stage of the operation we are probably ahead of the others (Waikato and Wellington)." The propellers had been removed and sold and the main gun was removed before it left Devonport. A lot of interest had been shown by former crew members who wanted items such as kit lockers, bunks and other memorabilia. The public was also expressing a strong interest in parts, he said.
One of the most prized finds so far was some documents presented to a sailor with his bravery award. "All the documentation for it was down behind a locker." The documents were being safely stored till they could be handed back to Bjorn MacRae, the young electrician who may have saved the ship from being lost at sea to a fire – a sailor's worst nightmare. He was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his bravery after fire broke out in the ship's auxiliary switchboard near the Chatham Islands in October, 2003.
Mr MacRae and another electrician, Dale Bradly fought the fire. Mr MacRae struggled through thick, black, acrid smoke and attacked the fire with an extinguisher in spite of his difficulty breathing. At the time, the ship's captain, Commander Lance Cook, said had it not been for the quick-thinking and instinctive reaction of Mr MacRae and Mr Bradly the fire could have spread throughout the ship. In the "ultimate extreme," the ship could have been lost, he said. Repairs cost more than $1 million.
Mr Greenall said they had found the citations and papers extolling Mr MacRae's bravery and they would be kept till he could be found and they were returned to him. One of Mr Greenall's scariest moments on the Canterbury was soon after the ship was launched. During sea trials off England the steering gear failed as they were about to go through a breakwater as they left port. The ship was controlled by changing the speed of the port and starboard engines or reversing them but for a few minutes there were some nervous people on the bridge and in the damage control headquarters where Mr Greenall was on duty.
"We lost power to the steering. There are processes in place to overcome that but it is not a very good look." For Mr Greenall there were mostly good times to remember, particularly on the British designed and built Leander-class frigates. They were originally built to operate around England, and in the unforgiving North Atlantic Ocean.
"They were a particularly good sea boat," he said. However, the Leander-class frigates were known to have a hull weakness just forward of the bridge and the frigates that have already been sunk, Waikato and Wellington, had broken in half at the weak point.
Mr Greenall hoped that would not happen when Canterbury was sunk at Deep Water Cove. The sinking site had a flat, sandy bottom and if the ship could be sunk on an even keel it could sit on the bottom in one piece for many years as a drive attraction, he said. The tentative sinking date has been set for October 20, almost 36 years to the day after the ship was commissioned.

UPDATE: 30/03/2007: Women gear up for frigate work
. Women's status in society may have improved since the days when feminists rallied behind slogans like 'girls can do anything'. But there are still many professions in which women are underrepresented and the scrap metal business is arguably one of them. Three of the 20 labourers and their supervisors stripping the frigate Canterbury for scuttling near Cape Brett are women, and two of them are new to this type of work.
Natasha Fussell of Rawhiti was unemployed before working on the frigate, but seized the chance to be a part of the project that is important to her partner's hapu. "It's an experience of a lifetime," she says.
The job has involved ripping out interior fittings and electrical wiring in poorly lit compartments below deck. Previously a stranger to spanners, screwdrivers and socket sets, Natasha is considering a career in the scrap metal business when the Work and Income subsidised job ends in six months. Holly Rewha, also of Rawhiti, was a fulltime mum before joining the Canterbury crew.
Like Natasha, the experience has opened her mind to new career opportunities. "I'm thinking of becoming a mechanic, because I've got the hands to fit into small gaps and, by the time I start the training, I will have the muscles too," she says. Supervisor Trudy Perry of Whangarei is treating the job as another chapter in a varied work history that includes light engineering, landscape gardening and building. "It will be another adventure wherever I go in six months. The world's our oyster," she says

. UPDATE: 29/03/2007: Illegal fishing boat to become new reef
An illegal fishing vessel confiscated by the Australian government will be scuttled to form a new artificial reef in the Northern Territory. The Medkhanun 3, an East Timorese-flagged gillnetter caught last year in Australia's northern waters, will be sunk in Darwin harbour. Federal Fisheries Minister Eric Abetz said the plan to turn the 27 metre steel hulled boat into a reef was put forward by the territory's Amateur Fishermen's Association.

"The NT government ... will now make arrangements to sink the vessel at a suitable location within Darwin harbour," Senator Abetz said in a statement. "The sunken vessel will create an artificial reef that will become an attractive site for recreational fishing and diving." The master of the Medkhanun 3 was convicted and fined $150,000 for illegal fishing offences.

UPDATE: 20/03/2007: Brady on Scuba — Wreck diving: ‘Not the booty, but the beauty’

When a non-diver thinks of wreck diving the first vision he conjures up is treasure hunting. Believe me, we have all thought about finding treasure at some time or another. But the real treasure in wreck diving is not Spanish gold or silver, it’s the sea life that wrecks attract.
For many years we have been diving wrecks from the 19th century and World Wars I and II. The wrecks from the wars are surprisingly close to our shores in depths reachable by sport divers (other wrecks from disasters and collisions at sea are also frequented by divers). Artificial reefs, as they are called, are wrecks sunk on purpose in areas to promote diving and sport fishing. These reefs can also be structures other than ships, such as old bridges, concrete structures, dry docks, railway cars, armored vehicles, planes, culvert pipes and just about anything else that will stay put on the sea bottom.

So where is the treasure? Natural reefs grow from coral over a long period of time, but only in tropical climates around the world. Fish and plant life are attracted to them and flourish on the hard structures. Artificial reefs have the same effect by attracting huge schools of game fish and promote growth of sea life on them. Over time. a complete eco-system moves in and proliferates on the wreck in a seabed of sand. First to move in are algae and urchins. Schools of baitfish and jacks arrive. Sea bass, taugs, and various species of sharks finally show up. Lobster, mollusks and eels will eventually take over spaces inside. Artificial reefs are strategically placed in planned areas along the coast. Areas exist off Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida.

Most of the expense has been borne by the sport fishing industry, but some work has also been done by divers. Florida has the most extensive array of wrecks and artificial reefs placed by fishing groups and is still very active. The U.S. Navy has a large number of mothballed ships that are available for cleaning and sinking as artificial reefs. Most recently, the Spiegal Grove was sunk off Key Largo and the Oriskiny, an aircraft carrier, was sunk off Pensacola. From West Palm to Miami there are dozens of artificial reefs within two miles of the shore. There are literally hundreds of wrecks between Rhode Island and Key West that are visited by divers all the time. The treasure is the huge amount of income generated by the interest of sport divers and fishermen on these wrecks and artificial reefs. The lore of the wreck for me is not the booty, but the beauty in all the life in this oasis on the sand. Artificial reefs must be carefully cleaned and prepared for sinking. All machine oils, harmful paints, PCB’s, fuel, and any other marine hazards must be removed. Cables, equipment and other hazards to divers must be removed. Often, extra entry/exit holes are cut in hulls and decks to let in more light and “open up” the interior of the ship.

Safety is a big concern and hazardous conditions will still exist after preparation is completed. Wreck diving requires additional skills and training above the Open Water certification and most wrecks lie below the 60- or 100-foot limit of recreational divers. You must have Advanced and Wreck Diving certification to dive wrecks down to 130 feet. Wrecks below this depth are reserved for Technical Advanced divers who will employ special gear and breathing gases. All World War era wrecks are deteriorating fast as they are already over 60 years old. We have seen these wrecks all over the world in our diving career. Their beauty and history are the subject of a hundred books about wreck diving. In another 40 to 60 years we will have nothing left but artificial reef wrecks.

UPDATE: 18/03/2007: Frigate Canterbury Preparing For Sinking

The old navy frigate HMS Canterbury has become a tourist attraction in the Bay of Islands months before it is due to be sunk as a dive wreck.

The ship was towed to from Auckland to Opua last month and is now being stripped and cleaned in preparation for sinking in October. Kelly Weeds, from the Canterbury Charitable Trust, says visitors and community groups are queuing up to be shown over the Canterbury.

He predicts there will be mixed emotions when it is finally sunk. Mr Weeds says the Canterbury will be open to the public at Easter, in exchange for a gold coin donation towards the project.

UPDATE: 17/03/2007: 260-foot cargo ship becomes Palm Beach County's newest artificial reef

By Maria Herrera: They dropped the anchors and pulled the plugs. The colossal steel structure filled with water, tilting left. The stern submerged, then the bow. Water erupted into a geyser as the ocean swallowed the aging freighter. Known lately as the Korimu, the 260-foot cargo ship became another artificial reef off the coast of Palm Beach County on Friday after the county's Department of Environmental Resources Management sank it nearly three miles northeast of the Lake Worth Inlet. "It's exciting to be a part of this," said Tom Twyford, executive director of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, which partnered with the county to create the reef. "The ship now provides a new habitat for a variety of fish and in the long term it can contribute to the health of the ecosystem."

The ship was stripped of pollutants or toxins so it could be used for reefing, then towed north from the Miami River, said Environmental Resources Management division director Dan Bates.mOriginally named Celtic Crusader, the freighter was built in the Netherlands in 1970. In the 1980s it was owned by Miami-based Bernuth Shipping Lines and used to move goods between the Caribbean and Central America. The fishing club donated $10,000 toward the all-inclusive price of $75,000. The fee included buying, prepping, towing and sinking the ship along with two fish-attracting devices. The fishing club named the future reef the "John Ribovich Endowment Reef," after a prominent boat builder who presided over the club for more than 20 years. The derelict ship joined two others previously sunk at the site, more than 200 feet deep.

"It was one of the permitted spots and easily accessible for boaters and divers," Bates said. During the 15 years the county has run the artificial reef program, it has created more than 60 artificial reefs from sunken vessels and created mitigation reefs, made from limestone boulders or concrete, in the Lake Worth Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee, Bates said. Though Palm Beach County Surfrider Foundation director Tom Warnke said artificial reefs could also create a draw for tourism, he warned against mitigation reefs, which are usually built to compensate for the loss of inshore reefs by a dredge or beach renourishment project.

"The artificial reef program the county has is a model for the rest of the country," he said. "[This ship] has created an interesting dive." Bates said he expects snapper, grouper and amberjacks to be swimming near the ship in no time. "If done properly, they're an asset." said Ed Tichenor, Palm Beach County Reef Rescue executive director. "Not in the sense of replacing a natural reef. That can never be replaced."

UPDATE: 28/02/2007: Marine life gets spiffy new home - Pyramids of artificial reef placed on sea floor

By MIKE KELLER The artificial reefs placed Tuesday will be part of a group that eventually stretches across 200 miles.
FEDERAL WATERS SOUTH OF HORN ISLAND - Sixty concrete-and-limestone pyramids were set on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday to replace artificial reefs damaged or destroyed by Katrina. Marine-resources managers hope reef fish will call the new structures home. A barge sank the pyramids in three designated fish habitats 10 miles south of Horn Island. "We lost 80 to 90 percent of artificial-reef habitat during the hurricane," said Department of Marine Resources program manager Kerwin Cuevas. "Snapper, gag grouper and a whole host of other species important to commercial and recreational fishing use these areas for shelter, foraging and breeding."

The pyramids are being deployed in Mississippi waters for the first time, instead of rubble piles or scuttled vessels. Walters Marine, an Alabama company, built and delivered the eight-foot-high structures. DMR plans to drop a 240 pyramids in the next few weeks. When it is done, the project will have refurbished 10 to 20 acres of fish habitat. Cuevas said the money for the project- $240,000- is coming from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration emergency grant.

"These reefs are important economically," Cuevas said. "They bring $78.4 million into the Mississippi economy annually." Research has shown how much marine animals, from invertebrates up to large carnivores such as sharks, gravitate to an artificial reef compared with the barren bottoms surrounding them. One New Jersey study found artificial reefs could provide up to 760 times the mass of living organisms than comparable sandy sea bottoms.

Tuesday morning the barge Maranatha, which means "our Lord is come," moved to a spot above fish haven 1. The area is one of three permitted artificial-reef sites where the pyramids will be deployed. A deck worker attached a 67-foot boom crane's cable to one of the 3.5-ton pyramids. The artificial reef was swung over the side of the ship and lowered to the mud-and-sand bottom some 60 feet below.

The barge sat higher and higher in the water as it delivered its load throughout the morning. Resources managers looking on from their own boat near the barge have high hopes for the new material they are deploying. "We are going to do some comparative studies between this new material and what we traditionally use," Cuevas said. "Hopefully when we're through, other reef managers can learn from what we did here."

UPDATE: 21/02/2007: Old frigate scrubs up well for a new adventure in the deep

The Canterbury gets a clean-up in Auckland yesterday. Photo / Greg Bowker
The former frigate HMNZS Canterbury stopped in Auckland yesterday for a scrub before heading up to the Bay of Islands to become a dive attraction. The clean-up, which saw the 113.4m frigate waterblasted clean on a dry dock, was done to prevent sea squirt from being transferred into Northland's waters. It is believed the pest established itself on the frigate's hull while she spent two years sitting tied up in Canterbury after being decommissioned.

Conditions of the resource consent granted to sink the frigate in Deepwater Cove, Cape Brett, required that it be free of unwanted organisms such as sea squirt. Biosecurity NZ senior marine adviser Peter Stratford applauded the frigate's new owners, the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust, in having the vessel thoroughly cleaned out of the water.

"They are taking very seriously the responsibility we all have to protect the marine environment," he said. "This whole process is a good example of everyone working together to protect our waters from harmful marine pests. "This cleaning will ensure no unwanted organisms are moved into the Northland waters, ultimately making the Canterbury diving attraction even more fantastic."

Biosecurity NZ is working to educate all boaties, particularly those with vessels that are permanently moored, about good hull cleaning and anti-fouling practices as an essential part of preserving the marine environment. "The cleaning of the Canterbury is an example on a large scale of the kind of responsibility we'd like to see all vessel owners taking," said Mr Stratford. The Canterbury was launched by Princess Anne on May 6, 1970, and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy on October 22, 1971.

UPDATE: 19/02/2007: Frigate off to the cleaners

The Canterbury will become a dive attraction. File Photo / Paul Estcourt
The old Navy frigate Canterbury begins its final preparations today before its last voyage north. It is due to go into dry dock at the Devonport naval base to have its hull cleaned before being towed to the Bay of Islands and sunk as a dive attraction. The 3000-tonne Leander-class frigate, which was the last steam ship in the Navy, will be sunk in Deepwater Cove at Cape Brett. It will spend four days in dry dock to have the marine pest seasquirt cleaned off the stern hull and have the propellers removed and lashed to the deck. It is due out on Thursday.

Kelly Weeds from the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust said that if the weather was right the tow north would begin immediately. The ship would be berthed at Opua for about six months to allow salvageable material to be removed and sold. He said the two bronze propellers were worth about $14,000 each for scrap but could be sold for a lot more for their sentimental value. The trust would like to keep one and have it mounted as a memorial to the ship. - NZPA

UPDATE: 19/02/2007: Artificial reefs hold real promise for bay anglers!
By Bill Burton:
So much in fishing is artificial these days: Artificial flies, artificial baitfish, even artificial nightcrawlers, bloodworms, crabs, squid, eels; you name it and it can be poured into plastic molds. The phonies are sufficiently realistic that if worked properly they attract fish to the hook. And, then there are artificial reefs, man-made fish attractants, a place where smaller marine life prospers, smaller fish go to feed - and in turn bigger fish go to eat them.

In the Chesapeake and its tributaries, artificial reefs have been around for probably a couple of centuries or more, beginning when man dumped things into the water, sometimes just to get rid of them or perhaps in hopes that things stuffed on the bottom would create uneven contours that would attract fish. Artificial reefs are relief from natural flat and even bottoms - in such instances, there is little natural structure where small fish can escape larger predatory fish. The baitfish are fair game, out in the open, with no place to hide.

When an artificial reef is created, whether it be unintentional like a sunken vessel, or intended when one is made up of debris, reef balls and such, small marine life sprouts, smaller fish seek sanctuary and larger fish follow to dine. And fishing is enhanced. The Department of Natural Resources began to get interested in artificial reefs about 50 years ago; some of the first reefs were made of worn out tires and the remains of bridges; today the building of artificial reefs involves old bridges, worn out vessels, even man-made concrete fish balls with holes in them where smaller fish move in quickly to feed on the aquatic growth that follows.

Reef building has become rather sophisticated as fisheries managers learn more about what better attracts marine life and what can have an adverse environmental impact. For example, tires, once the backbone of reef programs, are no longer acceptable in many places, including here, due to possible pollution consequences as they break down. Artificial reefs play an increasingly important role in enhancing fishing opportunity as old natural reef-like bottoms become silted in and eventually covered. Many skippers of the mid-bay attribute the declining catches at the Summer Gooses, once one of the best chumming areas, to silting of that natural reef. Not far from the Gooses is the Stone Rock off Tilghman Island, created when large stones, some reportedly that served as ballast for ships, were dumped in the vicinity of Sharps Island. The Stone Rock continues to be a fairly good angling opportunity.

Properly designed and sited artificial reefs, as they mature, should function similar to natural reefs of the same size in the same general area. The number of attracted species might be low for the first few months, the number of fish could be high depending on the numbers of larval or juvenile fishes in the area that find the reef. Within a year, one can expect similar numbers of different species as in similar natural reefs in the area. Artificial reefs are just not created at random; they must be in an area that fish will frequent - and also man. Important in the site selection process are land and water access points, existing fishing grounds and areas to be avoided because of navigational traffic, water depth, unsuitable bottom and such.

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