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UPDATE: 20/09/2006: Effort continues on artificial reef to honor MicKey
By Ken Little: The effort to create an artificial ocean reef this year in remembrance of a highly regarded local diver has sprung a few leaks. There's a possibility that a 183-foot ship bearing the name of Greg MicKey will be sent to the bottom off Frying Pan Shoals as soon as late September, a state official said this week. But before that happens, work to strip the former menhaden fishing vessel of all machinery and other environmental threats must be completed. It will then be towed from Norfolk, Va., to Morehead City and be rechristened the Capt. Greg MicKey. MicKey, of Wilmington, loved recreational diving and was well-known in the local diving community. The 49-year-old pharmaceutical company representative became separated from the boat he was diving from on June 18, 2005, in strong currents near Frying Pan Shoals. His body was never found.
Friends seeking to honor MicKey came up with the idea of purchasing a ship and sinking it in the area where he was lost. Through a fund-raising campaign and matching funds from the Onslow Bay/Long Beach Artificial Reef Association, $75,000 was raised and a suitable vessel located. The former Coastal Mariner was purchased from Dominion Marine, the scrap company also responsible for removing its seven motors and towing it to the sinking site.
MicKey's friends hoped to sink the vessel on June 18, the one-year anniversary of his loss. A series of unexpected complications has pushed the date back several times. Dominion Marine had breakdowns of a crane and other equipment that delayed motor removal and ship cleaning. Tropical Storm Alberto pushed back the timetable. And the demand on Dominion Marine's resources deployed to repair oil industry damage in the gulf region caused by Hurricane Katrina also factored into the equation. It's now the height of the 2006 hurricane season, another wild card in the effort to create the artificial reef this year.
"The anniversary of Greg's loss has come and gone and it was very anticlimactic to find out we still had far to go. We're in communication with the family and frustrations are running high but circumstances are beyond our control," said Donna Starling, a MicKey family friend who helped organize the effort to purchase the ship. Jim Francesconi, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries artificial reef coordinator, has continued efforts to ensure work is completed in a timely manner. Dominion Marine was paid $45,000 up front for the vessel and the refitting work needed to receive approval from the Coast Guard to sink it. The company will receive the other $30,000 when the work is complete and the ship is towed to Morehead City. Francesconi drove to Norfolk two weeks ago and spoke with the man supervising work on the ship. "We're all feeling a lot of pressure on this project, and I decided to give him a little breathing room," he said.
"We let him know we would be very interested having this vessel ready for sinking by the end of September. The guy knows what needs to be done. We would really like to dive on this vessel the day it goes down so we want some warm water." The massive engines have been removed from the ship, which was launched in 1970 for use as an oil rig supply vessel. The ship was converted to menhaden fishing in the 1980s and obtained by Beaufort Fisheries Inc. in 1992. The ship became available when the North Carolina company ceased operations. "There certainly have been some things with this project that have been beyond anyone's control," Francesconi said. "Once you get the engines out you are free to remove fuel pumps, fuel and filtration systems, and it's a dirty boat as well. The boat from the bow to the engine room is 98 percent done." The ship's new owners are reluctant to set specific dates for the rechristening and sinking of the Capt. Greg Mickey because of previous disappointments. "We hope we can get a two-week window so the family can fly in," Starling said. "Hopefully by the end of September the ship will be laid to rest."
UPDATE: 19/09/2006: Special on sinking of Oriskany
You landlubbers probably thought you'd never have a chance to see the Oriskany again, now that the decommissioned aircraft carrier is sitting in 212 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. But here's your chance to see the ship from the comfort of your living room -- or the comfort of the swanky Saenger Theatre. A special screening of the upcoming Discovery Channel special "Oriskany -- The Sinking of an Aircraft Carrier'' will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Saenger Theatre in downtown Pensacola. The event is free. The special airs on the Discovery Channel at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Sept. 27.
"We're interested in it because we helped do some of the diver support for the production company,'' said Jim Phillips, owner of MBT Divers in Pensacola. "It should be interesting, because they got permission to do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff and had access to the ship before it went down.'' The Oriskany, a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, was sunk on May 17, some 24 miles southeast of Pensacola. The 888-foot ship is now an artificial reef, attracting divers from around the world. The Discovery Channel special was produced by Parallax Film Productions and details nearly every aspect of the Oriskany's sinking -- from the debate about where it should be sunk to environmental concerns, and finally, to the sinking itself.
Parallax Film Productions used four underwater cameras to show the sinking, but the massive explosions used broke two of the cameras, said Maija Leivo, one of the film's producers. "It was really an extensive project,'' she said. "And the behind-the-scenes story is amazing as well. You just don't take a boat out and sink it. So we follow the process from beginning to end. And at the end, viewers will see some amazing footage as it sinks. We're thrilled with the outcome.'' Phillips said his crew helped retrieve cameras for Parallax, which is based in Canada. "I hope it has a positive impact here locally," he said.
UPDATE: 18/09/2006: For reef project's hopes, it's sink or sunk
cclark@MiamiHerald.com: KEY WEST - In 1996, dive boat captain Joe Weatherby started combing through files of 500 mothballed military ships looking for the perfect one to sink and turn into the Florida Keys' largest artificial reef.
He chose the decommissioned 1943 naval warship USS Hoyt S. Vandenberg, because its decontamination would be manageable and its irregular shape would be exciting for divers. It took Weatherby and several volunteers thousands of hours of work to navigate the ever-changing landscape of 16 government agencies to get the necessary permits to sink the 14,300-ton ship in the ocean just south of Key West, in the environmentally sensitive Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
But now, with a federal deadline looming, if $3.4 million in needed funds cannot be raised by Nov. 1, the only thing that will be sunk is the project itself. ''This is the last chance to do this,'' said Weatherby, president of the nonprofit Artificial Reefs of the Keys, or ARK, which has spearheaded the Vandenberg project. The U.S. Maritime Administration, which owns the Vandenberg -- now docked on Virginia's James River -- will donate the ship to ARK and provide a $1.25 million grant toward its decontamination and transportation.
But the grant expires on Dec. 31 if the project is not fully funded -- now at a price tag of about $5.7 million. The ship would then be delivered to a junkyard on Jan. 2 to become scrap metal. The fate of the vessel, nicknamed the ''White Ghost'' for its Cold War days as a missile tracker, is in the hands of Keys politicians. At a Monroe County budget meeting last week in Key Largo, Weatherby and several supporters pleaded their case -- that ARK's request for $2 million from the county infrastructure fund would be returned to county taxpayers many times over in increased tourism revenue generated by the artificial reef. While all five commissioners agreed the project was good for the county, Commissioners Dixie Spehar and George Neugent both asked: Where will the money come from?
The commission had just heard impassioned objections from residents regarding proposed cuts in county funding to three wild bird centers, a kids' program, the Arts Council and a popular Key Largo aquatic center. The County Commission will vote on the Vandenberg project Wednesday at its final budget meeting. If the vote is no, Key West Mayor Morgan McPherson, a staunch supporter of the project, said it would have a ``crippling effect.'' If the vote is yes, the project still needs to come up with another $1.4 million. McPherson said the city is aggressively seeking state grants and private donations. ''The project is a no-brainer,'' McPherson said. ``It's not like building a new city hall and you have to maintain it with future costs. Once the ship is sunk, it's sunk.
``I don't know why it had stalled. I wasn't involved until recently. But I know all of a sudden, the county and city and state agencies are working together to make it happen. I haven't seen any effort more collaborative, with the exception of windstorm [insurance].'' Weatherby and volunteers also have spent many hours wooing financial backing that runs the gamut from the Maritime Administration to Jimmy Buffett's fan club. Weatherby said it was difficult to nail down funding until the permitting was in place. That required much advance work, including a comprehensive plan on how to decontaminate the ship. The permit, which is held by the city of Key West, finally was received in March 2005, at a cost of around $300,000. About $2.4 million of raised funds remains available, including the $1.25 million federal grant, $1 million from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and $85,000 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The sinking site was carefully chosen, in 140 feet of water between the Western Sambos Ecological Reserve and Sand Key. It's an area with little current, good visibility down to 60 to 80 feet, and far enough away from the natural reef. McPherson agreed with supporters who say that turning the 10-story high, 520-foot-long ship into an artificial reef that draws new populations of fish would benefit the area economically by drawing more tourism. It would also ease the impact on the natural reef and could be turned into an underwater classroom and research site. ''I think it would be tremendous, with all the people that have a fascination with diving wrecks,'' said Bob Holston, director of operations for Dive Key West. ``It's unique, drifting down water to a massive ship. Seeing that wreck would be like people seeing the Grand Canyon or the redwoods for the first time.''
UPDATE: 09, Sept, 2006: TV celebs promote Michigan wreck diving park
Powered by CDNN - CYBER DIVER News Network: by KIM SCHNEIDER) The co-hosts of History Channel's "Deep Sea Detectives" were in West Grand Traverse Bay on Friday, swimming around an old fishing boat that sits about 20 feet down. But their goal wasn't to showcase a ship-related mystery; instead, they came to point out some undiscovered potential at the state's first annual Underwater Tourism Summit.
Some 18-20 shipwrecks have been discovered in Grand Traverse Bay, but organizers of a proposed new Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve believe there are hundreds more wrecks beneath the bay and millions of dollars in tourism money in their potential exploration.
State Sen. Michelle McManus and an aide to Carl Levin were two of the divers who swam with the TV celebs, who later were to regale a $75-a-plate dinner crowd with shipwreck exploration tales as a way to help raise money the preserve. "We want to form the 12th underwater preserve in the state of Michigan with the ultimate goal of sinking a ship on purpose," said Richie Kohler, host of the popular History Channel dive show. Acquiring a ship and readying it for sinking could cost up to $100,000. Kohler and co-host John Chatterton are best known for their discovery of a German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey (the subject of an upcoming movie) and innovative new theories about the sinking of the Titanic. But they're equally passionate about recreational diving and preserving the thousands of historical, archeologically significant shipwrecks on the Great Lakes bottomlands, Kohler said. Because they're preserved in fresh water, the Great Lakes wrecks are some of the world's best, he said.
And perhaps ironically, sinking ships intentionally or "reefing," helps preserve true historic wrecks. The new wrecks give beginning divers a place to explore and touch without risk to an archeological treasure, he said. Swimming the corridors of a sunken ship also is great fun, no matter what your experience level. "You're in this alien environment," he said. "Part of it involves seeing things you're used to--a doorway, a stairway, a bed, a chair. But you're in this three-dimensional water environment in which you can float and hover. When you factor in that it's dark and spooky, it's like a fun house for adults." Tickets for the dinner and dive should raise about $10,000 toward the proposed preserve, said Greg MacMaster, the president and executive director. That's a fraction of what it will take to acquire, clean up and sink two ships, he said.
UPDATE: Sep 5 2006: Diving into history!
By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner: DEEP sea divers from Huddersfield went to the bottom of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
They were there to discover its array of scuttled warships and spectacular marine life. The diving dozen, from Huddersfield Sub-Aqua Club, spent a week braving the gloomy green waters of the enormous harbour which was once home to 74 battleships. The club, based at Huddersfield Sports Centre, swan alongside the wrecks of German ships which were scuttled after the First World War. They include the 25,800-ton, 575ft battleship Kronprinz Wilhelm and the 2,600-ton freighter Tabarka.
Shipwrecks provide an artificial reef for wealth of plants and sea creatures. Gun barrels that once caused death and destruction now house platoons of prawns, bright orange lobsters and blue conger eels. The divers also swam alongside seals, shoals of fish and sea anemones. Club official Kate Falkingham said: "It was really exciting. "It feels quite exotic going to a place that's so steeped in history.
"You try to imagine what it must have been like when 74 battleships were there. That can't fail to impress anyone. The ships are so huge. "The dive on the Tabarka was best. It a beautiful wreck that is still intact. It's like diving abroad." Scapa Flow lies in the south of the Orkney Islands. The natural harbour, measuring 15 miles by seven miles, was used by the Royal Navy until 1956
* Scapa Flow is one of Britain's most historic stretches of water. Located within the Orkney Islands, off the north-east coast of Scotland, it's sheltered waters have been used by ships since prehistory. It has played an important role in travel, trade and conflict throughout the centuries - especially during both World Wars.
UPDATE: 02 September 2006: Minor hiccups create delay for diving fans
By Mike Dinsdale. Northern Advocate: It's full steam ahead for plans to sink the decommissioned frigate Canterbury in the Bay of Islands - despite the group behind the plan having to stump up $50,000 to get her towed from Devonport. The Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust last month won the tender for the Canterbury and plans to sink the ship in Deep Water Cove, near Cape Brett, as a diving attraction. The tender document stated that the successful bidder would have to cover the costs of transporting the vessel to its final resting place, but the trust had hoped the Navy would tow the vessel for free - as it did when the HMNZS Wellington was given to a dive trust in the capital.
The Canterbury could bring $20 million to the local dive industry within "a couple of years", trust chairman Kelly Weeds said. Mr Weeds said it was disappointing, but not a major impediment, that the Navy had decided to leave the towing job to the trust. It would cost about $35,000 to tow the Canterbury north and another $15,000 to insure it. Mr Weeds said the trust had budgeted for the expenditure, but it was still hoping that the Navy would "do the same for us as they did for the Wellington. And we are a bit closer to Devonport than Wellington." Far North Holdings Ltd has stepped up to the plate with an undertaking to waive close to $80,000 in berthing fees when the Canterbury berthed at Opua Wharf for stripping.
Of more concern to the trust is that the formal handover of the Canterbury has been put on hold. The Navy now requires the trust to have resource consent to sink the ship first. "It wasn't part of the original agreement that we have resource consent first, just that we had to be committed to getting it, which we have applied for," he said. "Again, it's not really too big a problem and won't stop us. It just would have been nice to have had it up here earlier." The trust has applied to the Northland Regional Council for resource consent to sink the frigate.
Mr Weeds said apart from those two hiccups everyone had been "really supportive and positive". The project is expected to cost about $600,000, much of which Mr Weeds hopes will be recouped from the sale of scrap metal and equipment stripped from the ship. If all goes to plan the vessel could be sent to its watery grave in June.
Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant Commander Barbara Cassin said the sale of the Wellington had exposed the Navy to "significant cost". As a result the Navy had been clear from the outset that preparation costs, including towing, would be paid by the new owner this time. A sale agreement would be signed about 10 days after a resource consent was granted, and the ship would leave Devonport three weeks later. She said discussions with the trust had been "very, very positive, and apart from the delay caused by the resource consent process, the sale process has proceeded very smoothly". http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3699720&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection
UPDATE: 28 August 2006: Memorial tribute to HMAS Brisbane and her crew
RAE WILSON: With a ship motto like that, it’s not surprising that the HMAS Brisbane’s mast now stands proudly atop the Alexandra Headland bluff. The foremast section of the mast has been incorporated into a prominent memorial pointing directly at the ship’s final resting place.
The rest of the great grey lady was sunk 2.8 nautical miles east of Mudjimba Island in July last year. Former crew and other dignitaries will unveil and bless the memorial in a dedication ceremony from 2pm today. HMAS Brisbane Association representative Kerry Kerr said he was pleased the memorial honoured the ship he served on for two years. “Our ship will be sitting out there for 500 years. We know where it is, it won’t be made into razorblades,” he said. “With this memorial, this top section of our ship will sit here forever. I sent out a message to the troops the other day about grandchildren coming here; they can say ‘my pop was on that’ and that will perpetuate. “This means everything to us and the council has to be congratulated on doing it.” Information panels tell the story of the former HMAS Brisbane; its proud service history, its journey from decommissioning to scuttling, and its continuing service to the community as a dive site and research reef. The memorial bow carries the ship’s number 41 while a wall is inscribed with the words HMAS Brisbane. The ship’s crest and battle honours are also part of the memorial.
Maroochy RSL sub-branch president Terry Meehan said the memorial enabled people to “see the history” of the HMAS Brisbane. “Part of the concept when we started this was to make people aware of the life of the ship; how its life started as a war ship, the battle honours it received, the 7000-odd people who served on it, the fact it’s now a marine park and that’s what this depicts on the forecourt here,” he said. “The interest in the memorial from the service community is huge,” Mr Meehan said. The Queensland Government gifted part of the mast of the former HMAS Brisbane to the Maroochy Council to create a lasting tribute to the ship and her crew. Source: http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3698623&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection
UPDATE: Friday August 25, 2006: Diving into tourism proves successful!
A Northland dive company has scooped NZ's top tourism prize this week - a win that could help diving become to Northland what whale-watching is to Kaikoura. Dive Tutukaka won the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association's Supreme Award in Wellington. The country's biggest dive charter operation, Dive Tutukaka, was developed by entrepreneur and conservationist Jeroen Jongejans and business partner Aussie Malcolm six years ago.
Jongejans said he was thrilled with the award, and was equally pleased the exposure would help to boost Northland's reputation as New Zealand's dive capital. "Success depends on maintaining a sustainable environment and providing a quality product," he said. "Diving might look like a niche industry, but there's room for growth among other dive operators and all Northland tourism as long as those standards are applied." Dive Tutukaka had been a finalist in the tourism awards four times and had won other industry awards, he said, but not the big one. Sitting alongside the tourism sector's biggest and best had been reward enough. "We always box above our weight."
Prime Minister Helen Clark (pictured above with Jeroen Jongejans of Dive Tutukaka) said the company deserved to win. "It offers a range of adventure tourism experiences for visitors and has a strong focus on conservation. This is the type of tourist operator we'll need in the future," she said.
Enterprise Northland chief executive Brian Roberts said it would be hard to put a dollar value on Dive Tutukaka's win, but it was something Northland should celebrate. "The award gives the whole region bragging rights," he said. "It will also have a huge morale-building effect on Dive Tutukaka staff as well as other companies striving to excel." The company also won the visitor attractions and activities and the Department of Conservation's conservation in action awards.
Jongejans has pushed for expanding the world-famous Poor Knights Marine Reserve into a larger park and has called for the islands to be recognised as a World Heritage Park. Tourism Industry Association chief Fiona Luhrs said Dive Tutukaka epitomised a successful venture, focusing on customer service, sustainability and profitability. "It is the vivid experiences of activities such as diving in a world- class subtropical dive spot that helps to draw in international visitors."
Dive! Tutukaka (Dive the frigate WAIKATO (F69's sister ship) and the TUI - Twin shipwrecks)
Poor Knights Dive Centre, Marina Road, RD3 Tutukaka Coast, Whangarei
www.diving.co.nz < http://www.diving.co.nz >
Phone: 64 9 4343 867, Fax: 64 9 4343 884
Free Phone in New Zealand: 0800 288882: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: 23 August 2006: Navy may sink carrier Forrestal
The Forrestal, which was the Navy's first 'supercarrier,' is tied up at Pier 2 in Middletown, where it has been located since 1998. (David Hansen/Daily News staff)
By Joe Baker/Daily News staff: If the US Navy has its way, the Forrestal, the Navy's first "supercarrier," eventually may become a fish farm and a site for adventurous divers.
Decommissioned in 1993, the Forrestal was moved to Pier 2 at Coddington Cove in Middletown in September 1998. A nonprofit group based in Maryland has been trying to raise money to turn the carrier into a museum and move it to Baltimore Harbor. But that effort may be for naught. The Forrestal has been "identified as a disposable asset," said Patricia Dolan, public affairs officer for the US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., which oversees the disposal of decommissioned US Navy ships. The Navy would like to strip it and sink it as an artificial reef. But getting approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a lengthy process, Dolan said. "It has been designated for scrapping," Dolan said. "Right now we have no plans for what to do with it, but it is a potential reef candidate."
Maryland officials were not aware the Navy had decided to scrap the Forrestal until informed by The Daily News. The effort to bring the decommissioned carrier to Baltimore had stalled because of security and space issues, according to Henry Fawell, press secretary for Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Richard Scher, spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration, said there simply is not enough space in the port for a ship the size of the Forrestal. Also, the public does not have access to the port, Scher said, meaning it could not be a public museum. Ehrlich, despite those obstacles, is "interested in seeing (the Forrestal) brought to Baltimore," Fawell said.
A nonprofit group has been raising money to move the Forrestal's next-door neighbor, the Saratoga, from Pier 2 to Quonset Point in North Kingstown, where it would be used as a museum. The Navy sunk its first ship for a reef in May. About five years after it announced its plans to do so, the Navy sunk the former aircraft carrier Oriskany in 212 feet of water 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Fla. Florida was chosen from among four states because it already had a permitted reef site and an active reef-monitoring program, Dolan said.
The Pensacola Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau already is promoting the sunken ship as an opportunity for divers and deep-sea fishermen. It calls the Oriskany "the largest artificial reef in the world" and informs fishermen they "will be able to reel in popular game fish such as grouper, snapper and amberjack" at the site. Although reefing ships is not cheap, Dolan said, it still would cost less than dismantling and scrapping the Forrestal, which is 1,046 feet long and weighs 59,900 tons.
According to a Navy Web site on the Oriskany reefing, it cost about $20 million to assess the risks, develop the plan, clean the ship and tow it to the reef site. It would have cost the Navy $24 million to dismantle the 32,000-ton carrier. Dolan said the Navy had to go through a lengthy permitting process with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to sink the Oriskany. The Navy is now trying to get a secure a "national permit" from the EPA so it does not need to go through the process every time it wants to reef a ship, Dolan said. Before a ship can be sunk, asbestos, fuels and certain paints must be removed, Dolan said. The Navy has hired a maintenance contractor - Global Associates Inc. - to tend to the Forrestal and the Saratoga. The company is conducting "environmental preparations" on the Forrestal now, Dolan said. http://www.newportdailynews.com/articles/2006/08/23/news/news2.txt
UPDATE: 21 August 2006: A Wealth of Wrecks and Family Fun in the Pensacola Bay Area
Courtesy of Capt. Ron Beermünder, Pensacola Dive Company
Pensacola, Florida - While the USS Oriskany, scuttled in May to become the world?s largest artificial reef, has already become the dive world's latest "must dive," scuba enthusiasts coming to the Pensacola Bay Area are discovering a hidden treasure - a wealth of other first-rate wreck dives in the waters of Northwest Florida.
The main attraction is obviously the Oriskany, a retired 910-foot 7.5-inch?long aircraft carrier sitting upright on a soft sandy bottom in 212 feet of clear Gulf of Mexico water only 22.5 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass. As scuba divers from as far as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Russia have returned from the depths singing the praises of the "Mighty O," the wreck, dubbed by CNN "the great carrier reef," has already gained a reputation as one of the world?s great dives. And while it has drawn the attention of divers from across the globe, the Oriskany has also focused the dive world?s attention on the Pensacola Bay Area.
"As people come to dive the Oriskany, they're also discovering one of Pensacola's best-kept secrets - that diving is excellent off the shores of Northwest Florida for both recreational and technical divers," said Captain Ron Beermünder, Pensacola Dive Company. "We've got a variety of wrecks at all depths that are perfect for everything from photographing and observing marine life to spear fishing and beginning wreck penetration dives."
Take for example the USS Massachusetts, sunk more than 50 years ago near Pensacola Pass. Dedicated as an underwater archaeological preserve in 1993 on the 100th anniversary of the ship?s launching, the Massachusetts has been a favorite dive site of locals for decades. Sitting in just 25 feet of water, the wreck attracts bountiful marine life, including at least three Goliath groupers known to locals as the Kennedy's, an eight-foot long resident nurse shark, giant stingrays, sea turtles, king mackerels and a google variety of baitfish. With its shallow depth and hull partially exposed on a white sandy bottom, the Massachusetts makes a stunning night dive. Only one and a half miles from shore and with its close proximity to Pensacola Pass, the Massachusetts with her partially exposed gun turrets is something of a marine navigation hazard to boaters. And while surface currents can sometimes pose difficulties and rough conditions can affect visibility, a carefully planned dive with a local, experienced dive guide can result in the Massachusetts becoming a regular dive destination for tourists as well as the locals "in the know."
The Antares, a 400-foot freighter, is 21 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass, just west of the Oriskany and in 130 feet of water. Populated with moray eels, red snapper, grouper, cobia and amberjack, the Antares is a favorite spear fishing spot. The massive freighter broke apart and was scattered by hurricane Opal in 1995, but because each large chunk of the wreck is worthy of a separate dive, a trip to the Antares can seem as if you are diving several wrecks at once.
Another local favorite is the Pete Tide II, a 180-foot oil field supply boat that was reefed in 1993. Only 12 miles south of Pensacola Pass, the Pete Tide II is intact and upright and is an easy wreck to penetrate, even for properly trained beginning wreck divers. In 100 feet of water, the wreck is broad, long and easy to anchor on. After spending 13 years on the bottom, marine attractions of the Pete Tide II can include sea turtles, triggerfish, schools of red snapper and amberjack, and even the occasional mahi mahi, wahoo and blackfin tuna.
But until further notice, the "Mighty O" remains the shining underwater star of the Pensacola Bay Area. As awe-inspiring as a dive on the "Mighty O" is, one of its charms is its accessibility by divers at every skill level. Her crown or island can be approached at 67 feet in emerald-clear water where visibility has been holding steady at 150-plus feet. From the island divers can scan the seemingly endless flight deck sitting at 137 feet, a depth considered a technical dive. And with water temperatures ranging from the mid 80s in summer to the upper 60s in winter, when visibility is generally at its best, the Oriskany is an outstanding dive throughout the year.
In addition, the Oriskany has been added to the list of Pensacola wedding venues. Couples wanting to make a big splash can tie the knot "scuba style" with a ceremony conducted on the navigation tower at 70 feet deep by Captain Ron Beermünder, an ordained minister, notary public and owner of Pensacola Dive Company.
UPDATE: 18 August 2006: Artificial Reefs Made With Sunken Subway Cars, Navy Ships
John Roach for National Geographic News: Along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Georgia, thousands of fish are crammed into subway cars—but they're going nowhere fast, and recreational fishers couldn't be happier. The subway cars, along with armored tanks, naval ships, tugboats, and a large amount of concrete culverts, were strategically dumped in the ocean to serve as artificial reefs. "In the mid-Atlantic region, we have very, very little exposed rock," said Jeff Tinsman, the artificial reef coordinator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources in Dover (map of Delaware).
Hard surfaces—whether natural or human-made—are attractive to oysters, blue mussels, and food sources vital to local fish populations, including black sea bass. But most of the ocean surface along the mid-Atlantic is featureless sand interspersed with mud splotches, so the artificial reefs are beacons for marine life. "Oftentimes [artificial reefs] are hundreds of times richer in terms of biomass than the natural community at the bottom," Tinsman said. "This is very attractive to fish."
State agencies turned to artificial reefs for help after they were pressed to boost local fish populations because of numerous razed oyster beds, Tinsman explains. Divers to the artificial estuarine reefs often report seeing hundreds of juvenile black sea bass, an economically important fish, he adds. Jennifer Samson, a marine scientist with Clean Ocean Action, a New Jersey-based advocacy organization, supports the Atlantic reef programs. She says New Jersey's artificial reef program is "excellent" and "well supported by the fishing community"
UPDATE: 17 August 2006: Artificial Reefing Programme enhancing Florida's marine environment.
Creation of artificial reefs to enhance fisheries and the marine environment has been a key element of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission activities. Florida is noted for having one of the most active artificial reef programs among the 14 Gulf and Atlantic states involved in this activity.
Thirty-four of 35 Florida coastal counties spread along 8,426 miles of tidal coastline (1,200 miles fronting the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean) are or have been involved in artificial reef development. Dating back to 1920 more than 2000 documented public artificial reefs have been placed in state and federal waters off these counties. Most of the reef development has taken place in the last 20 years. Local coastal governments hold all but two of the more than 300 active artificial reef permits off both Florida coasts. About half of these sites are in federal waters.
In addition to administrative duties, staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conduct statewide compliance and performance monitoring of grant funded reef projects using SCUBA. The section’s assessment dive team conducts fish censuses, mapping, video, photography, and materials evaluation. Staff may also inspect materials proposed for deployment, or monitor actual deployments. Other monitoring techniques such as sidescan sonar have been used on a contractual pilot study basis. In the course of 142 staff fish censuses taken statewide at depths from 10-140 feet since 1992, 220 species of fish have been identified on Florida artificial reefs. The top five fish species most likely to be seen on artificial reefs during those censuses were 1) tomtate (grunt); 2) gag (grouper); 3) gray snapper 4) white grunt and, 5) gray triggerfish. Fish noted in the greatest densities when they occurred were 1) scads (cigar minnows); 2) clupeids (herrings); 3) tomtate (grunt) and, 4) vermilion snapper (beeliners).
Following link is to an image gallery of some of these artificial reefs...
Check out Florida's latest reef, the aircraft carrier Oriskany . Latest images from the deep of the largest artificial reef in the world.
want to know more about the Oriskany
more on Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's reefing activities
UPDATE: 16 August 2006: Frigate project opportunity for Far North
Northern News: Community and business leaders in the Far North are fizzing over the news that the district has won the right to scuttle the decommissioned naval frigate HMNZS Canterbury in the Bay of Islands. "The news that the district has been successful is just overwhelming," Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp said last week.
"Congratulations to everyone involved. This is an example of how partnerships can work in the best interests of the wider community. This is a great result and we have triumphed against the odds." Mayor Sharp said Minister of Defence Phil Goff had told her that it was the strength of community support for the trust's bid that had impressed him and, at the end of the day, won the frigate for the Far North.
"With strong support from the Far North District Council, the community and local iwi, we were able to tip the scales in our favour," she said. The council has agreed to underwrite the Bay of Islands Canterbury Trust's resource consent application costs for the scuttling project conditional upon the trust repaying the money to the council.
Northland Regional Council chair Mark Farnsworth said he was "really pleased" to see the frigate come north. Mr Farnsworth said the council would do everything it could to assist the trust, but was unable to say if the council would waive its $40,000 consent fees. "It's not an easy answer to give. I would love to waive the consent fees," he said.
"We will have to look at what they want and the constraints and everything around that." Mr Farnsworth said the council was not able to offer the trust the free use of Port of Whangarei tug boats to tow the frigate from Auckland to Opua, because it had no control over Ports of Auckland who held the tug boat contract at the port.
Destination Northland general manager Robyn Bolton said the minister's decision was "excellent news" for the district's tourism industry. Ms Bolton said sinking the frigate as a dive attraction at Deep Water Cove provided a link between Tutukaka, which was well established internationally as New Zealand's premier dive destination, and Matauri Bay where the Rainbow Warrior was sunk. "Our biggest aim at Destination Northland is to get better distribution of visitors around the region. Having a dive trail like this goes a long way towards achieving that," she said.
Ms Bolton said, while the proposed trail only included dive sites on the east coast at this point, it still encouraged people to spend more time and travel more widely in Northland. "I can definitely say that the benefits will multiply right out into the community. When visitors stay longer and travel more widely, they're taking beds, eating food and putting petrol in their cars. The benefits to communities around Northland will be really big."
UPDATE: August 7, 2006: Former Navy Frigate to be sunk in Bay of Islands
Defense Minister Phil Goff today announced that the former Royal New Zealand Navy frigate, HMNZS Canterbury will be sunk as a dive wreck at Deepwater Cove, Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands.
"The disposal of the Canterbury for scrap was examined as an option but the greater long term economic benefit to the country was thought to come from the sinking of the frigate as a dive wreck", Mr Goff said. "A number of registrations of interest for disposal of the Canterbury were received from the North Auckland area. The strongest case was that put forward by the Bay of Islands Trust which will be given responsibility for sinking the vessel.
"The Bay of Islands Trust's proposal was seen as having the best potential to deliver the greatest overall economic benefit to the community and the country. "The addition of a dive wreck will add to the attraction the Bay of Islands has to domestic and international visitors, in what is one of the country's most visited tourist destinations. "The strong support of regional MPs, local government, iwi and tourism operators made the Bay of Islands Trust's proposal the strongest we received. "While this vessel will be sunk, the ships name and its honour board will live on with the newly constructed multi role vessel, due to enter service in early 2007, which will have the same name and same home port", said Mr Goff.
The frigate HMNZS Canterbury was commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy in October 1971 and de-commissioned in March 2005. HMNZS Canterbury was the last of the Leander-class frigates in the Royal New Zealand Navy. HMNZS Canterbury carried a crew of 240 Officers and Ratings.
The main 4.5-inch gun, shown below after it was removed from Canterbury's foredeck, will go to the new naval museum in Auckland.
UPDATE: Tuesday, August 1, 2006: Divers find Hitler's aircraft carrier
By Roger Boyes: The location of the wreck of the Graf Zeppelin had been a mystery for more than half a century
POLISH divers have discovered the rusting wreckage of Nazi Germany’s only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, solving one of the most enduring maritime riddles of the Second World War. For more than half a century the location of the huge vessel was kept secret by the Soviet authorities. Even the opening of the Moscow archives in the 1990s failed to produce a precise bearing. The once-proud ship was simply one of dozens of wrecks that littered the bed of the Baltic Sea near the Bay of Gdansk.
“We were carrying out soundings for possible oil exploration,” Krzysztof Grabowski, of the Petrobaltic exploration group, said. “Then we stumbled across a vessel that was over 260 metres (850ft) long at a depth of 250 metres.” Divers confirmed this week that it was the German ship, though who owns her and what — if anything — will happen to her remains unclear.
When the Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938, Adolf Hitler raised his right arm in salute to a warship that was supposed to help Germany to become master of the northern seas. But, when fleeing German troops scuttled her in April 1945, she had never seen service — a casualty of infighting within the Nazi elite and the changing tide of war. The Graf Zeppelin was scuttled in shallow water near Szczecin and it proved easy for the Red Army to recover her after marching into the Polish port. According to an agreement with the Allies, German and Japanese warships should have been sunk in deep water or destroyed. The Russians repaired the ship, then used her to carry looted factory equipment back to the Soviet Union. In August 1947 Allied spies observed her being towed back to the Polish Baltic coast and then used for target practice at Leba by Soviet dive bombers. It appeared that the Russians were preparing for possible action against US aircraft carriers.
The Graf Zeppelin sank a second time, and remained undetected until now. Lukasz Orlicki, a Polish maritime historian, said: “It is difficult to say why the Russians have always been so stubbornly reluctant to talk about the location of the wreck. Perhaps it was the usual obsession with secrecy, or perhaps there was some kind of suspect cargo.” At 262 metres, the Graf Zeppelin was comparable to the biggest of the US carriers that played such a significant role in the Pacific. She had a range of 8,000 nautical miles, meaning that she could easily have reached the North Sea.
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UPDATE: Tuesday, August 1, 2006. 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."
UPDATE: Sun, Jul. 30, 2006: Shedding light on Artificial Reef impact
4 Year Environmental Impact Study on Artificial Reefing completed! BY SUSAN COCKING _ MiamiHerald
For decades, fisheries scientists and managers have debated the pros and cons of deploying artificial reefs, the major issue being whether man-made underwater structures draw fish away from natural coral reef habitats. A recent study by researchers at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center shows the answer is no -- at least if the man-made structures are ships.
''We know that ships are not having a negative impact on surrounding natural reefs,'' said Nova's Richard Spieler, who supervised the four-year, $150,000 study. Nova marine biologist Paul Arena studied six shipwrecks, all sunk about 70 feet deep off Broward County: tugboats Merci Jesus, Peter B. MacAllister and Jay Scutti; a no-name barge; the cutter Edmister; and the freighter Tracy/Vitale. Divers counted fish on each shipwreck four times a year. They performed similar fish counts on natural reefs shoreward and seaward of the shipwrecks in about the same depth. Said Spieler: ``If you anticipate a difference between ships and natural reefs, you'd see it there.''
There was a difference, but it was in the species of fish -- not the numbers. Arena and his colleagues found fish thriving on both kinds of reefs. But there were species inhabiting artificial reefs that were not only absent from adjacent natural structures but weren't found anywhere else in Broward County. Some of those included blackfin snapper, snowy grouper and amberjack -- mostly juveniles.
Theorizing that shipwrecks might serve as nurseries for some species, rather than attractants for mature fish, the scientists studied a relatively new wreck for two years, the Ebinizer II, sunk in 70 feet of water off Hollywood in 2002. They found it was dominated by young fish, with few adults. ''There were 18 species on it, mostly juvenile grunts, purple reef fish, amberjacks too,'' Arena said. ``You could see juveniles growing on the ships. Groupers are usually the first predators to show up and we didn't have any.'' The researchers wondered what happened to the grouper, snapper and amberjack that were raised on the ships and then disappeared from local waters. David Bryan, a Nova master's degree candidate, set to find out. Bryan deployed a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) -- a video camera with three propellers on a tether -- to survey Broward's deep-water wrecks and reefs.
Bryan and his colleagues sent the ROV down on the Bill Boyd, Caicos Express, and Papa's Reef -- all shipwrecks deployed between 240 and 300 feet deep two miles offshore. In the absence of deep-water coral reefs, the ROV scanned adjacent sand/rubble bottom for comparison. The scientists found few fish of any type or size on the natural bottom, but plenty of adult blackfin snapper, grouper and amberjack on the deep shipwrecks.
Said Arena: ``They may be using shallow water habitats as a nursery and then moving to the deep-water habitats.'' The study -- paid for by the county, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Fisheries and the Guy Harvey Research Institute -- did not address any other of the myriad artificial habitats commonly deployed in South Florida waters such as oil rigs, Army tanks, radio antennae nor water towers. But it vindicated the long-held practice of sinking ships as fish havens. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/15154871.htm
UPDATE July 27, 2006: National Seashore partners with NOAA
Cape Hatteras National Seashore recently partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to aid them in broadcasting video of their latest project on the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA, in conjunction with the Institute for Exploration, conducted a mapping expedition of the wreck of the USS Monitor in order to create a photographic mosaic of the wreckage as it exists today. As a part of the expedition, NOAA transmitted live video feeds which included footage of the wreck site, interviews, and answering questions from the general public. In order to do this, the Seashore provided NOAA's staff with a location for the satellite antenna as well as electricity, DSL, and phone lines for their remote vehicle. "We are always happy to partner with other agencies when feasible," stated National Park Service Superintendent Mike Murray. "By providing NOAA with the essentials to transmit their live broadcasts, our staff helped NOAA to further its objective to educate the public about the significance of shipwrecks. This is also an important aspect of our mission at Cape Hatteras National Seashore."
The Monitor, one of the world's first ironclad warships, sank in a gale 16.1 miles south-southeast of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 230 feet of water on December 31, 1862. The ship was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and it became the first National Marine Sanctuary in 1975. The wreck of the Monitor is important as both a cultural site and an artificial reef. For more information on the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA's latest work on the site, visit http://www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/missions/2006monitor/welcome.html.
UPDATE July 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE): The Northern California Underwater Photographic Society (www.NCUPS.org) proudly presents a very special seminar Friday, August 11, 2006: "Creating Artificial Reefs from Decommissioned Warships in Northern California," with Harry Wong, president, and Randy Herz of the Northern California Oceans Foundation (NCOF). Sunken warships in Northern California waters will create new marine habitats that result in new recreational, environmental, and economic opportunities in the form of increased scuba diving and underwater photography tourism.
Warships to Reefs programs in other States, such as the offshore waters of Florida where over 400 vessels have been sunk, have been a boon to local economies. Sunken vessels become sealife magnets, increasing the diversity of marine species in and around the sunken vessel five-fold, on average from 26 species to 123 species. In Key Largo, Florida, and San Diego, California, the sinking of a single decommissioned naval vessel resulted in an increase of $4.5 million tourism dollars to the local economy annually, which is 10 times more than the initial one-time investment to clean and sink the vessel.
Congress has mandated and appropriated funds for the disposal of 359 decommissioned and mothballed warships, approximately 60 of which are moored at Suisun Bay, and are kept afloat at a cost of 45 to 60 million dollars annually to US taxpayers. The Northern California Oceans Foundation proposes to create artificial reefs in Northern California's offshore waters, approximately 1 every 18 months, over the next 10 years, through the acquisition, cleaning and sinking of decommissioned naval warships.
Harry and Randy will present a multimedia program consisting of incredible underwater photography and videography from other successful artificial reef programs. They will discuss the features and benefits of NCOF's future program and how it will impact Northern California's underwater environments, scuba divers and underwater photographers, as well as the State of California's tourism and scuba diving industries. The Northern California Oceans Foundation seminar will take place on Friday, August 11, 2006, at 8:00 p.m. Location: New Vision United Methodist Church, 450 Chadbourne Avenue, Millbrae, CA 94030. Cost for first-time visitors is FREE. For more info on attending, directions or membership info, please visit http://www.ncups.org/
UPDATE 13/07/06: Organizers seek more money to sink military ship
an Associated Press report
KEY WEST - Organizers of an artificial reef project need some extra cash to sink a military ship off the coast of Key West: about four million dollars to be exact.
The Monroe County Tourist Development Council had promised about 250-thousand dollars toward the almost six million-dollar project. But now organizers say because of sluggish fundraising and looming deadlines, they will need an additional four million to sink the USS General Hoyt S- Vandenberg. If they don't have the rest of the money by December, they risk losing the grant and the 520-foot-long ship will be sent to a scrap yard.
Organizers estimate the ship could bring in as much as 168 million dollars to local businesses and generate over one million dollars in resort taxes during the next decade.
UPDATE July, 9, 2006 Oriskany luring divers
Sink it, and they will come, we were promised. Well, we sank it, finally, and they're coming.
The decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany became the world's largest artificial reef when it was sunk on May 17, some 24 miles southeast of Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to turn the 888-foot ship, resting in 212 feet of water, into a magnet for divers around the globe. So far, mission accomplished. Across Pensacola, area dive shops are reporting out-of-control business and booked-solid charter trips, and divers fresh up from Oriskany visits are swearing that the Oriskany is a dive trip that trumps all others.
"It's been a jam-up month, and we're going crazy,'' said Scuba Shack owner Eilene Beard during a few precious moments between phone calls and customer walk-ins. "We're all tired, and we're all moving so fast. But we're not complaining. This is what everyone wanted.'' Pensacola has three dive shops, and no new dive shops have opened in the Oriskany's wake. All are reporting increased business. In all, the three shops are sending about 175 people a week out to the Oriskany.
At the Scuba Shack, about 75 divers a week have been paying $145 for a two-tank dive to the Oriskany, and the shop often has to turn away divers. "(Last weekend) we turned so many people away because we just didn't have room,'' Beard said. "We feel bad we can't get everyone on the boat, but you can only get so many people out there. Today, I turned away a dozen people.'' But the divers who do go say the trip is worth every penny. "The dive was extraordinary, one of the best of my entire life,'' said John Fleming, 48, of Tampa, a Navy veteran who visited Pensacola last week for the first time -- and who came just for the Oriskany. "The visibility was excellent and just coming down and seeing the vast expanse of the wreck down below, and seeing how huge it was, well, it was phenomenal.''
MBT Divers is another Pensacola shop reaping the benefits of the Oriskany. "We've been staying very busy,'' owner Jim Phillips said. "We're running four or five trips a week, with about 14 people a trip. People really are interested in this wreck.'' And, diving instructors say, more people are becoming interested in diving. Area diving instructor Debbie Norris said dozens of new divers are signing up for dive classes, spurred on by the Oriskany wreck.
Even though the bottom of the ship is 212 feet deep, the tower is only 70 feet below the surface and easily accessible to the average diver. So far, the Oriskany dive has been a safe one. No Oriskany diver has been treated for dive-related injuries since the vessel went down, said Karen Smith, spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital -- the only area hospital equipped with a hyperbaric chamber to treat civilian diving injuries. "Business has definitely picked up,'' Norris said. "Everyone is aware of the Oriskany, and I think more people who have never dived before are interested in it now.''
Norris has dived the Oriskany about 16 times since it was sunk just over a month ago. A certified diver for seven years, she said the wreck already is one of her favorite dive spots in the world. "If it's not the best wreck dive in the world, then it's probably in the top five,'' she said. "It's pretty overwhelming when you come down and see it for the first time. It's just so big and such a huge structure under the water. And the visibility has been excellent all summer.'' Norris said that with each visit, she can tell more and more sea life is calling the Oriskany home. "The first time we went out, there were already little crabs and small fish all over it,'' she said. "And every week, it seems like there are more. It's just been amazing to watch.''
Keith Wilkins, director of Escambia's neighborhood and environmental services department, said the Oriskany wreck is well on its way to becoming a economic pick-me-up for area businesses. "All the predictions about the Oriskany are turning out to be factual,'' he said. "The wreck is putting heads in bed for tourism, and the dive shops have all been swamped. It's going to be a tremendous boon.'' Fleming is one of those heads in the beds. He visited Pensacola with a friend after reading about the Oriskany and spent three nights in a downtown hotel. "It was my first visit to Pensacola, but it won't be my last,'' he said. He said he and his friend also went to Pensacola Beach and visited the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
"And the dive itself was excellent,'' he said. "We saw jacks coming down on the wreck and crabs all over it. We'll definitely be back, probably about once a year. I'd like to do it once a year for as long as I dive and just watch it change.'' Merrick Vanlandingham, manager of Dive Pros in Pensacola, said the Oriskany will grow in stature among international divers as time goes on.
UPDATE 05/07/2006: Artificial reefs offer action for all anglers
By Capt. Will Geraghty
Avid light-tackle angler Tyna Cerone knows the near-shore reef action can be action-packed. On a recent trip aboard “The Grand Slam”, Tyna caught and released this hefty barracuda on 12-pound-test tackle.
The waters off the Collier County coast host dozens of artificial reefs comprised of discarded concrete rubble, antiquated rock barges and retired vessels of many shapes and sizes. Several of these fish havens are in close proximity to shore, and most are easy to locate and provide plenty of rod-bending action for serious anglers and family outings on a year-round basis.
"Desert-like" would best describe the sea bottom along the lower Gulf Coast. Along our shallow coastline, the bottom is primarily sand, with a scattering of hard-bottom areas (limestone) and large fields of wispy sea fans, grasses and soft corals. Strategically placed, artificial reefs create additional structure and relief, which attract significant amounts of marine life. Local anglers and scuba divers have many reefs to choose from. Although the majority of local reefs are in shallow water (depths less than 35 feet), several reefs in deeper water have been deployed over the years.
For many years, generating a reliable list of Gulf hot spots was an almost impossible task, as savvy fisherman guarded their numbers with vigilance. Even today, the exact location of many of those spots remains a closely guarded secret. However, anglers can utilize such sources as Florida Sportsman Magazine, local "Hot Spot" charts, NOAA/Waterproof 09F and www.colliergov.net to acquire accurate coordinates of artificial reefs deployed in the last two decades. A variety of species make the nearshore and offshore artificial reefs popular with anglers of all skill levels. Abundant schools of snapper, grouper and other reef fish will surely provide great family action, while tackle-busting seasonal gamefish, such as cobia, permit, barracuda and King Mackerel, will test the avid angler and require considerable tackle preparation.
Standard gear for fishing the reefs can be as diverse as the catches they yield. With remarkable innovations in light tackle, spinning or conventional outfits in the 12-to-20-pound class will be sufficient when smaller fish are present. But keep in mind that more often than not, swimming in the wakes of these smaller fish will be larger fish weighing in excess of 200 pounds.
As our local population continues to grow, so does the angling pressure on our local reefs. Consistent calm sea conditions often guarantee that you will not be alone in your quest for angling glory while prospecting your favorite artificial reef. Although there are several large artificial reefs off our coast that can accommodate several boats adequately, most are small in size, allowing for one or two boats to anchor up and fish effectively. If you happen to arrive at your favorite fish-catching spot and there are already several boats at anchor, it is best to move on. You never know what is waiting to bend your rod at the next spot! By respecting fellow anglers by quietly idling away, the fish gods will be sure to reward you for your actions. Whether launching from the north or south part of Collier County waters, there is a "hot spot" out there waiting for you to wet a line. There aren't many secret spots, but most of the popular reefs will provide thrilling days for all anglers.
Capt. Will Geraghty is an International Game Fish Association certified guide and owns and operates a complete guide service docked at Brookside Marina in Naples. Specializing in both inshore and offshore light tackle sportfishing, Capt. Geraghty offers trips aboard "The Grand Slam" a custom 25- foot Privateer. Contact him at email@example.com or call 793-0969.
UPDATE 26/06/2006: Thailand dumps garbage trucks to make reef
PATTANI: Thailand dumped 189 old garbage trucks off its southern coast in a bid to build an artificial reef to lure fish for local fishermen. The trucks, once used to collect refuse in the sprawling Thai capital Bangkok, were dropped into the Gulf of Thailand, about 5.5 km from the southern province of Pattani.
Under a project initiated by Thailand's queen in 2002, everything from concrete pillars to old rail cars have been dumped at 47 sites in the waters off southern Thailand. Fishery Department official Rangsan Chayakul said some 43 species of fish were now living around these artificial reefs, up from 15 species before.
"The reef will protect shallow-water fishermen from high waves and give them a good source of income," he told Reuters.
UPDATE 26/06/2006: Reefs bring dollars to town
By Jennifer Taplin & Stephane Massinon, The Daily News. Yesterday, On Assignment introduced artificial reefs. Today, we show how it's working in Lunenburg. This is part two of three - stay tuned.
LUNENBURG - As porpoises dance in the distance, divers prepare to sink beneath the chop to find the buried treasure below.
It's early on a Sunday morning and these divers from a club in Moncton are eager to check out HMCS Saguenay , sunk as an artificial reef in 1994. They're in Lunenburg Bay, about 30 minutes by boat from the town, and it's the first dive on the ship this season. But the first diver in the water, who volunteered to tie a rope to the bottom for the others to follow, rose back to the chartered boat with bad news: The helicopter hangar attached to the ship had fallen victim to winter storms.
"The diver-friendly swim-through is gone," said diver Dave Cormier from Fredericton. "It's just Mother Nature taking care of things down there."
Regardless of the now detached hangar, the Saguenay - sitting at around 90 feet down - is always an exciting dive. "There's something different every time," said Kim Langille, who has dived the Sag 20 times.
Many divers explore the outside of the 366-foot-long vessel before trying out the inner passageways and rooms. It's a little spooky as the Sag takes shape through the gloom, said Connie Bishop of Fredericton. When she swims through the passageways, she likes to imagine what the ship was like when it was in service.
"You see a ladder and I like to go to the bottom of it and make my way up like I'm walking up to the top of the next deck to look around." Among the recreational divers on this expedition was a real pro: Steve Lewis is a trainer in technical diving instruction - scuba diving which requires decompression - with a Maine-based company. His purpose, besides diving the Sag for the first time, was to test the site for it's training possibilities.
"I'm looking at it as a future training site to be able to bring instructor candidates here to actually train them in wreck penetration," said Lewis, who now lives in Lower Sackville.
Out of the water, Lewis gave the Sag the thumbs-up.
Both Lewis and Langille said an artificial reefs program like the one in British Columbia would be welcome here.
"I don't think it should be contained to just Nova Scotia. I think all of the Maritime provinces should be involved in that sort of thing," said Langille.
"When you consider there's probably 400 people trained every summer in Halifax, the community is definitely growing every year." Lewis said more artificial reefs in the area would significantly boost tourism.
"For a place like Lunenburg to have another artificial reef in this area, I think economically it would do incredible. When you've got one, you become a centre, when you've got two, now you're a destination."
Shortly after the sinking, organizers started tracking the spending of visiting divers. Everybody who travelled to the Saguenay was required to fill out a form that asked how long they were staying and where and what they were spending.
Scuba-diving tourists spend money related to the sport (boat charters, equipment, etc.), but also on hotels, bars and restaurants.
Results from the first two years were encouraging, surpassing even the organizers' expectations. Visiting divers in Lunenburg spent an estimated $250 per day. In all, that meant between $1 million and $1.5 million in economic spin-offs for Lunenburg. Since then, numbers have remained stable, estimates the local reef association.
With artificial reefs, there is also the possibility of repeat visits since the site changes significantly over time. New life plant sprouts up and new marine life inhabits the structure.
With loyal divers that want to return, that means repeat customers.
And that's just the type of clientele Capt. William Flower sees aboard his Islander VI . If you're going to the Saguenay , he's likely the person to take you there, but his charter boat isn't the only option. Many people dive it without telling anyone, which makes it hard track how often it's used. For Flower, the economic benefit is the $45 he charges each diver to get there. But he says that's just the smallest part of what they'll pay overall, by the time they get a hotel and food and reminisce about the dive over a beer or two.
"That's the big moneymaker, just getting them into town. The town benefits a lot more than the boat does," said Flower.
His sister-in-law, Denyse Flower, owner of the Knot Pub, is one of the benefactors, who said her pub gets regular visits from divers.
At the Topmast motel, manager Mary Feener said she's seeing more and more divers come to Lunenburg. The motel even added an outside shower where divers can wash their equipment.
Last year, a group of army divers came and took up the motel's 15 rooms. Divers, she said, are good business.
"They're good customers because they're repeats," said Feener. "They keep coming back."
UPDATE 25/06/2006: Artificial reefs: two coasts, two stories
By Jennifer Taplin, The Daily News. Since tourism is suffering in Nova Scotia, we thought it was time to look at one option to improve the situation. On Assignment explores artificial reefs; today, we'll tell you what they are and what the situation is in B.C. This is Part 1 of three. Stay tuned.
Imagine scuba divers flocking to Nova Scotia to explore sunken navy destroyers at home on the ocean floor. Coastal communities are reaping the benefits of artificial reefs.
A major draw for divers from around the world, the scuttled decommissioned navy vessels translate into millions of dollars of new tourism revenue. Artificial reef societies take derelict vessels off the hands of the military, provide fish with new habitats, and create a relatively-maintenance free tourism trade. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
This is just a dream for Rick Welsford. He's president of the Nova Scotia Artificial Reef Society, which has found success only once, with HMCS Saguenay, sunk off the shores of Lunenburg in 1994.
Nova Scotia has only one military ship turned artificial reef, yet the other coast is home to six vessels and a Boeing 737 airplane under the waves.
B.C. draws in millions every year as a direct result of its artificial reef project. The province is internationally known by scuba divers, and its Artificial Reef Society sells its reef expertise around the world.
So the Daily News is asking: Why Not Nova Scotia?
B.C.: A swim through red tape
It all started, as with many great schemes, over a few beers.
Sick of trying to pick out the slivers from wooden shipwrecks, a group of divers thought it would be great to dive on something more intact.
Back in 1989, the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia was born.
Someone called in volunteering G.B. Church, a Second World War freighter, to sink for the cost of a tax receipt. They sold the anchors and the anchor chain for scrap, the community around Sidney raised $10,000, and the B.C. provincial government put in $10,000-$15,000. They had enough - about $40,000 - to clean the freighter and sink it.
The next project was a decommissioned naval destroyer.
The provincial government hopped on board again, promising $110,000, but that money never came through. A change of government came at a bad time.
"So then we had this 366-foot lump of peanut butter on the roofs of our mouths, and it was a far more complicated matter than the little freighter had been," said Tex Enemark, past president of the society and now a government liaison for the group.
With volunteer labour, selling every piece they could for scrap and scrounging for every penny, they managed to sink HMCS Chaudiere in 1992.
After that lengthy swim through the red tape, the group tried to make things a little easier: They negotiated to buy a four-pack of destroyers. Then they knocked on the doors of Western Economic Diversification Canada (a western version of ACOA) and were warmly welcomed.
"They gave us a loan of $160,000 so we could buy the first ship, with the understanding the selling of scrap would finance the next ship, then enough money from the last ship to pay back the loan," said Enemark.
Since the last ship turned out to be a Second World War ship, HMCS Cape Breton, there was nothing on it to sell it for scrap, so WED wrote off the loan.
Before some of the ships found their final, watery resting place, they were used as film sets. The X-Files shot on HMCS Mackenzie for six weeks. It opened up another, and unexpected, avenue for funding.
Now, after six ships and a Boeing 737 airplane sunk earlier this year, Enemark says supporting the artificial reef project was a good move for both levels of government.
"The effect of the artificial reefs on tourism in British Columbia is such that the Canadian and British Columbian governments got their money back many, many times over."
Artificial reefs are tourist gold mines on the west coast, so what is Nova Scotia doing wrong?
"I think the reason is nobody can raise the money," said Enemark who once tried to organize a national artificial reef society. "There's no federal program to support it, there's no provincial money to support it."
N.S.: First step the hardest
For 10 years, HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Gatineau have sat dockside in Dartmouth, waiting. Decommissioned, they have three possible fates awaiting them: sold to an artificial reef society, sold to a museum, or scrapped for metal.
The head of the local artificial reef society said a number of Nova Scotian communities are lined up and eager to get ships for their own artificial reefs.
Welsford tells them: "Until you have a ship in hand or at your port, you don't have a project. That first step seems to be the hard one."
Back in the early '90s, the Saguenay was donated and the society could manage the fundraising themselves. Now the ships are sold.
Just the gift of a ship would get the artificial reef project going again, says Rick Welsford.
Welsford says ACOA won't hand over any money because of a policy that grants or loans can't end up back in the hands of the government.
"Just because it's good for one coast, apparently it's not good for the other coast. That's a shame," he said.
Alex Smith, ACOA's communications director, says they have never received an application for funding from the society. Nor do they have a policy like the one described by Welsford.
"We do have a number of other guidelines set in place to assess applications, a due diligence process, but that's not one of them," said Smith.
As for the province, the Tourism Department decided to fund other projects, such as golf and hiking, instead of scuba diving.
On top of all that, Environment Canada has set out new guidelines that the military must remove all the wiring in the ships before they sell the ships to be sunk. It has to do with PCB contamination from the innards of the wires.
This procedure doubles the cost of the cleaning.
It's not that the military doesn't want to sell the ships for artificial reefs; in fact, they love the idea. It's cheaper than scrapping them, and it preserves military history.
"If a vessel was broken up for scrap metal, it's gone forever. You might have a few pieces of brass left over in a museum," said Lt. (Navy) Paul Pendergast. "In this case, if it's sunk as a reef, for many, many decades to come people will be able to go down and see it in person."
But right now, the priority is the operational fleet, and not decommissioned ships.
"The surplus vessels pose no threat to people or the environment where they're stored, and they cost very little to maintain," said Pendergast.
"Our preference is to wait for proposals from artificial reef societies or museums - or we're also looking at the scrapping option, as well."
Welsford said the delay comes with a price.
"When the navy says it's not costing us anything, it is costing us all that economic opportunity that we're missing, year in and year out that we're not using them."
All plans for new artificial reefs are on hold - on both coasts - until the Defence Department can figure out how to comply with the new wiring rules.
"As my dad used to say," said Enemark, "It's hard to organize a horse race if you don't have any horses."
Pendergast said they're conducting an experiment with the Annapolis on the West Coast. They're in the process of stripping the wiring from the vessel to test how much it costs and how long it takes.
Work on Annapolis started early this year, and is about half complete.
"The lessons we learn on doing the job on the Annapolis , we're planning to apply to the other vessels," Pendergast said.
"Hopefully, we'll work our way through them in a reasonable amount of time, and they'll be made available for proposals from people like the Nova Scotia Artificial Reef Society."
Source < http://www.hfxnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=6566&sc=2 >
UPDATE 24/06/2006: Ship sunk in honour of lost diver
The 183-foot Capt. Greg MicKey was christened July 21 and sunk July 23 near Frying Pan Shoals, more than a month later than originally planned. The ship was acquired for $75,000 by friends and family members of MicKey, a Wilmington resident and accomplished diver lost at sea on June 18, 2005. The ship will be sunk in MicKey's honor for use as an artificial reef.
The effects of Tropical Storm Alberto and the time-consuming process of stripping down the former fishing vessel combined to push back the hoped-for sinking date of June 18, MicKey family friend Donna Starling said. "The ship has seven engines and a very intricate hydraulic system," she said. Holes are being cut in the side of the ship and all glass onboard removed. "Safety is our number one concern," Starling said.
UPDATE 23/06/2006: Thailand uses garbage trucks to make reef. Source: Reuters
ATTANI, Thailand scuttled 189 old garbage trucks off its southern coast on Friday in a bid to build an artificial reef to lure fish for local fishermen. The trucks, once used to collect refuse in the sprawling Thai capital Bangkok, were dropped into the Gulf of Thailand, about 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the southern province of Pattani.
Under a project initiated by Thailand's queen in 2002, everything from concrete pillars to old rail cars have been sunk at 47 sites in the waters off southern Thailand. Fishery Department official Rangsan Chayakul said some 43 species of fish were now living around these artificial reefs, up from 15 species before. "The reef will protect shallow-water fishermen from high waves and give them a good source of income," he told Reuters.
UPDATE 22/06/2006: Sunken ships as storm barriers? Why not, some in Louisiana say
NEW ORLEANS -- Uncle Sam's aging and obsolete tankers, research vessels and cargo-carriers are being sought by Louisiana officials tempted to sink ships and create mounds of steel to act as barriers against hurricane flooding. The idea of turning ships into storm barriers is not new, but since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana is looking at every option _ especially quick-fixes. Levees take years to build, and restoring lost marshes and cypress forests even longer.
"When you're in this desperate state, we can't afford to laugh at anything," said Paul Kemp with Louisiana State University's School of the Coast and the Environment. Sinking ships could be done in a way that is safe for the environment, he said. In recent days, state Sen. Walter Boasso has become the idea's cheerleader, talking it up on radio and at forums.
"What I don't want to see happen is we have more studies and wait 20 years to have something done," Boasso said. "I want to see something happen." For Boasso, haste is everything these days. He represents St. Bernard Parish, a 486-square mile chunk of swamp, pasture and towns southeast of New Orleans. Nearly every square foot of the parish was inundated by Katrina's storm surge, which broke levees.
The catastrophic flooding, St. Bernard officials say, was due in large part to a navigation channel that runs through the parish. Boasso says planting ships in the channel would go a long way to plugging what has been dubbed a "hurricane superhighway." He added that ships could be placed in other places, such as on barrier islands. The channel, called the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, was dug in the 1960s as a shortcut between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, but it soon turned into an environmental horror story.
The channel tripled in width as tides and ship's wakes eroded its banks. The Gulf's salty waters encroached on cypress forest, swamp and marsh, killing an estimated 18,000 acres of marsh and 1,500 acres of cypress. Closing the channel has become a top priority. John Laguens, a St. Bernard community activist who's sought an end to the channel for years, said closing the channel is "just as important as building a levee system to protect St. Bernard."
Shannon Russell, a spokeswoman for the Maritime Administration, said there are about 125 ships on the disposal list. Most often, ships are bought by scrap metal companies, but other options are becoming more common. For example, a ship was recently sunk off the coast of Florida to create an artificial reef, she said.
It can take years to get approval to sink a ship in open waters, Russell said. But Boasso's proposal takes a different approach and seeks to use the ships as levees, something the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have authority over, she said. Dan Hitchings, a top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official in New Orleans, said the agency has not yet evaluated the idea.
Boasso said ships would be very cheap to acquire, and the government might even give them to the state for free. He added that draining ships' engines of oil and other contaminants to make them environmentally safe to sink could cost up to $300,000 each. For years, Louisiana has been trying to restore its dying wetlands with river diversions, marsh grass plantings and shoreline work. But that work has done little to stop the loss of wetlands _ about 2,000 square miles of it since the 1930s. The state is seeking to get billions of federal dollars to spend on restoration projects.
UPDATE 17/06/2006: City council writes off $170,000 Sink F69 debt
Nick Churchouse Dominion Post 17 June 2006
Sinking $170,000 off the south coast has been touted as a better investment for Wellington than the zoo, City Gallery, and the Karori Wildlife Centre. Wellington City Council has abandoned attempts to recoup $168,981 in unpaid debt from the Sink F69 project, which sank the ex-Navy frigate Wellington in Cook Strait as a dive attraction, writing the sum off as money well spent.
The council underwrote a $600,000 loan to the trust to cover initial costs of the sinking last year, but only part of that was repaid.
The council's strategy and policy committee voted this week to provide a grant to the trust so the debt could be signed off. An economic impact report commissioned by the council said the wreck, sunk in November, had already been visited by 2,000 divers.
Based on conservative estimates, the report said the wreck would bring $5.2 million in visitor revenue to the city over 25 years. That return on investment bettered most major city attractions, including Wellington Zoo and City Gallery, and was at least comparable to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, councillor Andy Foster said.
Councillor Robert Armstrong said the sinking achieved as much national publicity for Wellington as the King Kong film premiere - which cost the council $2 million. "We got value for money". Adding to that exposure, a National Geographic documentary, "Sea of Steel", would air in November and feature Wellington strongly, Sink F69 Trust chairman Marco Zeeman said. "From an investment ratio perspective it'd be one of the best the city had ever done."
The trust had hoped to fully repay the debt but had overestimated how much money they would make from activities on the ship prior to sinking, he said. The trust must provide audited accounts and a five-year management plan for the wreck to the council as a condition of the grant. Trust members and volunteers would continue to monitor and maintain the wreck, Mr. Zeeman said. "We provide post-storm reports and walk the beaches to see if there's any flotsam. There is a finite amount of cork and we have recovered most of it already "
UPDATE 26/05/2006: F69 Propeller placed in the new hi-profile Waitangi park
Due to the generosity of Wellington Central Rotary, one of the frigate Wellington's (F69) impressive 5 bladed 4 metre diameter bronze propellers is now home in Waitangi Park. Gifted to the City of Wellington by Central Rotary, this sculptural form will live on as a substantial memorial to F69 in Wellington City's new and impressive harbour side park and open space.Waitangi Park, alongside NZ's national museum, TePapa Tongarewa, certainly adds a new and exciting dimension to an already amazing waterfront. The SinkF69 Trust wishes to thank those that made the placement of F69's propeller in such a prominent location possible, clearly recognising the former HMNZS Wellington's significant contribution to NZ and its historic links to the City of Wellington.F69 lives on...in 1000's of peoples homes, in military collections, in museums, as amazing brass windows in the new South Coast Gallery, in Waitangi Park and on the seabed as a flourishing reef and world class dive attraction.Keeping you posted....visit Waitangi Park and see this amazing space for yourselves, if you haven't already!
Visit our new TREASURE CHEST EXHIBITION! and see F69's Propeller in its new home.....
UPDATE 25/05/2006: Tenders close for Navy's last steam warship
Five different organisations are after the Navy's last steam warship, the Leander-class frigate HMNZS Canterbury. The 36-year-old frigate was taken out of commission last year and has been sitting at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland while a decision is made on her future.
When tenders closed last week the navy had received five – three from organisations wanting to sink the 3000 tonne ship as a dive attraction and two from scrap metal merchants. The ship which has had no steam in its boilers for a year, was moved by tug to a training berth at the entrance to the naval base a few days ago.
One of the organisations wanting to sink the old frigate is believed to be the Tutukaka Coast Promotions Society which already has a resource consent. The society planned to sink the ship close to a sister ship – another Leander class frigate, the former HMNZS Waikato. Waikato was sunk nearly six years ago at Ngunguru just south of Tutukaka, 30km northeast of Whangarei. It quickly became a home for a myriad of fish and sea life, and a popular dive attraction. Waikato was also sunk with its main gun – a twin 4.5 inch turret – in place, although a similar turret has been removed from Canterbury and will go to a new naval museum when it is established at Devonport. About a year after Waikato was sunk the bow broke off and moved some distance away from the main hulk. Other suggested sinking sites for Canterbury include Omaha, 90km north of Auckland, a site off the Coromandel Peninsula and site near Gisborne.
Late last year the old Leander-class frigate Wellington was sunk at Island Bay at Wellington but it lasted only a few months before heavy seas broke it into three pieces. A decision on Canterbury was expected from the Government within a few weeks.
UPDATE 17/05/2006: Aircraft carrier now the world's largest artificial reef!
A decommissioned US warship has found a new lease of life on the ocean floor after being sunk, to become the world's largest artificial diving reef. The aircraft carrier Oriskany, sunk 24 miles southeast of Pensacola on Wednesday.http://www.ussoriskany.com/index.html
The new reef is expected to bring in $92m in tourism revenues. Watched by dozens of war veterans, some of whom had served on board the Oriskany itself, the vessel went down in just 30 minutes. Experts had predicted the operation could take up to five hours.The USS Oriskany was sent to its watery grave in a finely tuned operation by the US navy. It took 500lb (226kg) of explosives to sink the 32,000-metric ton vessel to its new home off the Florida coast. Navy divers rigged the hull with 22 explosive charges before blasting the ageing aircraft carrier out of the water some 26 miles (42km) off the Florida coastline.
“The Mighty O,” as the veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars was called, will serve as the world’s largest artificial reef. Measuring close to 300m (1000ft) in length, the Oriskany is the largest ship ever to be purposely sunk in order to create an artificial reef.The reef is expected to attract coral growth, fish and other sea creatures as well as curious divers and fishermen. It look months of discussion with environmental groups before the $19m (£10m) operation, which involved stripping the ship of toxic materials, was given the go-ahead. Divers are excited about the new reef, which is expected to support a variety of marine wildlife. “It’s going to be an awesome wreck and add a new dimension to diving in Pensacola,” she said. “We’ve been getting phone calls from all over the world already. People can’t wait.”Links
News 1 Latest 1 2
UPDATE 15/05/2006: F69's sister ship Scylla visited by 1000's!!
View from the bridge of the sunken frigate
Visitors to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth can now enjoy the sights of the Scylla reef thanks to a new web-cam from the boat. Scylla, an ex-Royal Navy warship, was deliberately sunk on March 2004 to create Britain's first artificial reef. Thousands of divers have already visited the new reef off Whitsand Bay to explore the different decks and see the marine life living around it. The Aquarium says it hopes to be able to add the images to its website soon.
National Marine Aquarium's Communication Manager, Melanie Cowie said: "This is the first time we've used this technology. "So far, we've seen a number of different species swimming around the bridge and even a few divers have been spotted." The system use a series of wireless links which take the pictures from a buoy above the wreck, from where the images are routed to Rame Head in Cornwall, then on to Staddon Heights in Plymouth.
From here, the images are beamed to the roof of the National Marine Aquarium and then - using fibre optic cables - they are sent to the computer suite. Visitors to the National Marine Aquarium can see the live footage each day in the Discovery Theatre on large plasma screens.
UPDATE 11/05/2006: Sunken frigate proves a hit (NZ Herald)
The wreck of an old warship sunk in Cook Strait last year has become a dive bonanza, considered by some to be the best dive wreck in the world. The 36-year-old Leander-class frigate Wellington was sunk off Island Bay
in November amid protests that it would break up and bits would be washed ashore.
However, professional divers now rate the dive one of the best in the world, proving the critics wrong.
Bill Keddy, who runs dive training and charter dive shop Splash Gordon in Wellington, said the wreck was encouraging many people to return to diving and many others to take up the sport just so they could get down to an amazing wreck.
Since the Wellington broke into three during a big storm in March, it no longer looked like a film set, he said.
The bow section with the 4.5-inch main gun was intact and lying on its starboard side. It was held in place by a large anchor and could be dived inside by qualified wreck divers but the two stern sections had mostly collapsed and people were advised not to dive inside.
"It is a much better dive now that it has broken up. It is a much more realistic wreck dive. Everybody is coming up buzzing after it. It is just amazing what the sea has done to it," Mr Keddy said. "There is twisted metal. There is stuff exposed that was not exposed before."
Mr Keddy said the frigate almost looked as if it had been sunk in action. But he warned that divers needed to take personal responsibility and not dive outside their skill and experience.
Mr Keddy said the ship had attracted divers from Invercargill to Northland, including many former Navy people who had served on board.
It had also attracted thousands of fish, including juvenile kahawai, cod and tarakihi. "A lot of the juvenile fish are using it as a base. I have not seen juvenile tarakihi anywhere on the south coast. It is amazing.
"There have been a few knockers but it is fantastic and it will be fantastic for the next 20 years," Mr Keddy said.
Marco Zeeman from the SinkF69 Trust, which spearheaded the sinking, said the 2000 divers who had gone down to see the wreck in the first few months had established it as a world-class dive attraction.
Wellington's sister ship, the decommissioned HMNZS Canterbury, is alongside at the Devonport naval base in Auckland and a decision is likely within two or three months on its future. About 20 groups are believed to be interested in the ship, mostly for sinking as a dive attraction.
UPDATE 01/05/2006: F69 a raging success with divers and fish alike!
Positive feedback continues to come in....
...."what an amazing dive"...."even better than before the storm"...."wow, the power of the sea is incredible"...."its like the hotel door has opened and the fish have moved in"...."you have to see it for yourself, now in three, its astonishing"...."we will return"....
The image above shows the tear on the bow where the bridge used to be and the image on the right shows the algae growth now occurring throughout the interior of the ship, as local diver Bill Keddy exits thru one of the holes cut in the bow. Notably, post the March 06 storm, the numbers and variety of species have increased significantly.
The rope eye on the port side of the bow, now on its side, is well covered in weed. The gun turret is now home to 100's of triplefin fish and also covered in seaweed and corralines.
Schools of kahawai, 100's of bluecod, redcod, starfish, spotties, tarakihi, butterfish, crayfish, 1000's of triplefin, visiting barracuda and dolphins have all been seen on and around the ship, with many species making the ship home.
The bridge, officers quarters, flight deck and bow are almost like the day F69 sank, intact albeit marine growth covering all surfaces. The storm effectively caused the two lowest decks in the midships/stern area to collapse, leaving the upper decks looking ship shape and diveable. The bow is completely intact, lying on its starboard side and full accessible by suitably qualified wreck divers. (see map below)
With F69's many overhangs, cavernous spaces, cracks and hard surfaces, the ship is fast being covered in lush marine growth and numerous fish species, proving itself hugely successful as a flourishing artificial reef and with 2000 divers having already traversed the ship shaped reef in F69's first 5 months under the sea, clearly establishing itself as a worldclass divewreck!
UPDATE 11/05/2006: F69 continues to get amazing media coverage!
Today's NZ largest newspaper, the Herald, - 2 excellent articles (see copy below)
Sunken frigate proves a hit
The wreck of an old warship sunk in Cook Strait last year has become a
dive bonanza, considered by some to be the best dive wreck in the world.
The 36-year-old Leander-class frigate Wellington was sunk off Island Bay
in November amid protests that it would break up and bits would be washed
However, professional divers now rate the dive one of the best in the
world, proving the critics wrong.
Bill Keddy, who runs dive training and charter dive shop Splash Gordon in
Wellington, said the wreck was encouraging many people to return to diving
and many others to take up the sport just so they could get down to an
Since the Wellington broke into three during a big storm in March, it no
longer looked like a film set, he said.
The bow section with the 4.5-inch main gun was intact and lying on its
starboard side. It was held in place by a large anchor and could be dived
inside by qualified wreck divers but the two stern sections had mostly
collapsed and people were advised not to dive inside.
"It is a much better dive now that it has broken up. It is a much more
realistic wreck dive. Everybody is coming up buzzing after it. It is just
amazing what the sea has done to it," Mr Keddy said.
"There is twisted metal. There is stuff exposed that was not exposed before."
Mr Keddy said the frigate almost looked as if it had been sunk in action.
But he warned that divers needed to take personal responsibility and not
dive outside their skill and experience.
Mr Keddy said the ship had attracted divers from Invercargill to
Northland, including many former Navy people who had served on board.
It had also attracted thousands of fish, including juvenile kahawai, cod
"A lot of the juvenile fish are using it as a base. I have not seen
juvenile tarakihi anywhere on the south coast. It is amazing.
"There have been a few knockers but it is fantastic and it will be
fantastic for the next 20 years," Mr Keddy said.
Marco Zeeman from the SinkF69 Trust, which spearheaded the sinking, said
the 2000 divers who had gone down to see the wreck in the first few months
had established it as a world-class dive attraction.
Wellington's sister ship, the decommissioned HMNZS Canterbury, is
alongside at the Devonport naval base in Auckland and a decision is likely
within two or three months on its future.
About 20 groups are believed to be interested in the ship, mostly for
sinking as a dive attraction.
Jenny and Tony Enderby: Scuttling for fun, profit and to make fish happy
The decommissioned frigate HMNZS Canterbury comes up for tender this month and will either be cut up for scrap or sunk as an artificial reef.
In November last year, another frigate, the Wellington, was sunk in little more than 20m of water off the capital's south coast with the support of Tourism Wellington and regional and local councils. The sinking was accompanied by fireworks and watched by huge crowds.
The first big Cook Strait storm this year broke the Wellington into three and debris was strewn along Titahi and Owhiro Bays. But it is still a diveable wreck and locals and visitors are still flocking. Tourism benefits to Wellington outweigh any negatives.
Europe's first artificial reef was created in 2004 when the environmentalist Dr David Bellamy pushed the plunger, setting off explosive charges on the ex-Royal Navy frigate Scylla, near Plymouth.
Marine scientists, backed by Britain's National Marine Aquarium, will monitor the growth of marine organisms on the ship. Local and visiting divers will have a new wreck to explore in addition to a World War II wreck a mere 500m away.
Former naval vessels have been sunk off Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The most recent, the destroyer Brisbane, sunk off Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast in July last year, attracted thousands of divers in its first summer.
Intentional sinking of ships in New Zealand is not new. From the 1920s old ships were towed to the entrance of Otago Harbour and sunk beside the Aramoana Mole breakwater to help strengthen it. Some of those hulks still provide a haven for invertebrate life and fish schools as well as a site for scuba divers.
In the Hauraki Gulf, most boaties are aware of the hull of the sailing ship Rewa, scuttled as a breakwater in the lee of Moturekareka Island. Hulks on Rangitoto and other islands have all but vanished.
There was no thought of providing a haven for marine life with these ships. They were just dumped somewhere out of sight. Unlike the purpose-sunk wrecks of today, they met no safety requirements.
Now all oils, heavy metals, asbestos and other contaminants must be removed to get resource consent. But the problem of them breaking up too fast remains.
New Zealand has had more than 2000 recorded shipwrecks. Those in exposed areas less than 30m deep break up and vanish quite quickly. In sheltered situations and in water deeper than 30m, they often last more than 100 years.
The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was the first of the modern purpose-sunk wrecks. It was raised from Auckland Harbour and resunk in Matauri Bay in Northland in 1987. The wreck quickly became covered in bright sponges, anemones and other invertebrate life. This in turn attracted fish schools which fed over and around it. Divers from all over the world visit, mainly due to the wreck's history and reputation as a colourful dive site. After nearly 20 years underwater the hull is still largely intact, due to the protection from Pacific Ocean swells afforded by the Cavalli Islands.
The research vessel Tui, sunk north of Tutukaka Harbour in 1999, was followed in 2001 by the frigate Waikato a few kilometres south. Both were sunk in more than 30m of water but Pacific swells pounding the exposed Northland coast have begun to break up both ships. Yet divers still flock to them, enjoying the marine life and fish schools around them.
A World War II tugboat, the Taioma, sunk in the Bay of Plenty in 2000, is still almost intact. It is covered in life and supports schools of resident fish. It has the protection of Motiti Island, which deflects the worst of the Pacific Ocean swells.
The Canterbury's potential tourism and economic benefits have attracted the interest of syndicates from around New Zealand.
Which leaves the question of where the frigate should be sunk. Obviously the province it is named after should have first choice but no suitable site exists along the Canterbury coast.
Auckland has the largest number of scuba divers in New Zealand but no safe, accessible shipwreck. Most of the inner Hauraki Gulf lacks the visibility to be a safe wreck site because of silt running off the land and discolouring the water.
Omaha Bay is the ideal site for the Canterbury, being more than 30m deep and protected from the worst Pacific Ocean swells by Little and Great Barrier Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula. The increasing price of petrol means divers' budgets are reduced and a dive site little more than an hour from Auckland is appealing.
A survey of the Omaha Bay site by marine biologist and long-time scuba diver Dr Roger Grace showed there would be minimal impact on existing marine life.
Dr Grace's view was that within a short time large schools of fish would appear over the wreck and the hull would become densely carpeted with marine life. The ship would have a useful life as an artificial reef for future generations of scuba divers.
Benefits to the Rodney and Auckland areas from the Canterbury as a dive site would be enormous. Omaha Bay is a natural marine amphitheatre with vantage points around the coast on both sides providing suitable areas for watching the ship sinking.
Seeing a large ship vanish beneath the waves accompanied by a pyrotechnic display is a once-in-a lifetime event for most people.
It just needs the positive support from Auckland and Rodney people and councils that was given to the Wellington project, to make it happen.
* Jenny and Tony Enderby are authors and photographers specialising in the marine world.
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UPDATE 27/04/2006: Project Wellington a finalist for business Gold Award
This is excellent news and further recognition of the success of Project Wellington for the region. The Gold Awards will be announced on the 17th May so watch this space.....
Visit Wellington and enjoy its many attractions and if you can dive, visit one of our local dive operators and witness for yourself as F69 quickly evolves into a colourful living reef! This is a world class dive attraction right next to NZ's amazing capital city that will most certainly cater for your every need.
News 1 Latest 1 2
UPDATE 15/03/2006: Storm over F69 breaks back and splits into 3!
The frigate Wellington, pummelled by 14m swell on the 3rd March 2006, only 4 months from sinking has split in three. The bow broke free from the main structure of the ship, held in place by the 8 tonne mushroom anchor used at sink time. The subsequent swell, estimated at 14m, caused the ship to slide, destroying its lower decks, pivoting on its embedded propeller shaft and rotating anti clockwide to sit in a NW position. The bow remains in position and is now lying on its starboard side. The bow section remains intact, however wreck qualified divers only should penetrate this section and during the dive consider the change in orientation with being on its side.
It appears the main structure, trying to move backward, has exerted incredible pressure on the propeller shafts which have pushed back into the gearbox's and broken the back of the ship. The lower decks of the ship have been crushed with the upper decks dropping onto them. The engine room and boileroom, both large unsupported rooms, have collapsed, making a gap of approx 10m were the remains of this part of the structure lay crushed between. Midships where the bridge and officers quarters are, remain intact with handrails etc still in place. The stern and flight deck area where the original mooring buoy was attached is also intact, upright with a list to port.
Basically the ship has been flattened midships of main structure with the remaining three pieces of the ship intact. There is a debris zone on the seaward side and midsection of the ship and between the bridge and bow section.
This ship is now a three dive experience...see the images that follow from video taken by the Police National Dive Squad
•Penetration of stern and mid ships is no longer recommended. This area makes for an exciting external dive, experience the power of the ocean and the impact on F69.
• Penetration of bow section by wreck qualified divers only! This area makes for an exciting external dive around the gun turret and wave breakers.
Large numbers of blue cod have moved in with terakihi, kahawai and barracuda making the three part F69 their home as has a carpet of seaweed and algae. Triple fin fish are everywhere and corralines have started inhabiting most area's of the hull and rails with hydroids covering the interior walls, providing feed for the many fish that have made F69's corridors, nooks and crannies home.
F69 Lives on....
We continue to monitor the situation. This was not an expected outcome so early on in the life of F69 but was part of her long term projected changes including ending up deck on deck similar the shipwreck Devon, a few miles east of F69 .
Newly exposed steel plates and surfaces will soon follow suit, being softened by marine growth within a few months of last weeks storms. The reef will continue to evolve as a diverse marine habitat and will certainly enthrall visiting dive tourist for many years to follow.. witness the power of the sea!
UPDATE 29th Dec 2005: Sunken vessel is already pulling in the punters!
images kindly provided by Wilfried Bockstruck
The country's newest shipwreck and dive attraction is already covered in algae and home to a myriad of sea life. The former Leander-class Navy frigate HMNZS Wellington was sunk off Island Bay in Wellington on November 13 after six years of planning and preparation. Marco Zeeman from the Sink F69 Charitable Trust, named after the ship's number painted on its hull, said the ship had settled into the seabed since the sinking and was showing no sign of movement. "She has sunk nicely a good metre into the seabed and is well locked in now, perfectly upright. "Her keel has settled into the sand so she is snug. The ends of her propeller shaft are now buried in the seabed whereas before they were nearly a metre above the seabed. In a month she has done over 400 dives. She is already covered in algae all across the top decks," he said. "She is no longer her grey stealthy ship-like shape." He said within a few months he expected metre-long seaweed to be growing from the ship.
The top of the bridge and the ship's helicopter hangar was only six metres below the surface at low tide and could be dived on by snorkellers. Mr Zeeman said divers with air tanks had said the internal dive on the ship could be done without a torch because there were so many holes cut in the ship which let in a lot of light. The ship had already attracted a lot of sealife, with schools of red cod and juvenile fish.
The ship was sold to the trust by the Navy for $1 on instructions from the Government. The Navy paid for some of the cleaning and the tow from the Devonport naval base in Auckland. It was moored at a wharf near Te Papa for five months as it was stripped of anything of value which could be sold. Mr Zeeman said Wellington City Council underwrote the venture and the trust owed the council about $85,000, which he said the council was happy about. "They had basically budgeted $600,000. "I think it is a raging success. "The divers are loving it ... all the feedback has been absolutely amazing." He said the wreck was generating income for the city and had added a venture tourist attraction in short supply in the area. "It is a shipwreck which 20 other shipwreck technology and sinking processes have been put into so she is the best in the world. She is certainly the most accessible from an international airport."
Marco said there was still some bronze and copper nickel which could have been salvaged from the ship had the trust had more time. The ship sank in less than two minutes after a huge fireball exploded over the bridge and bow of the ship, and carefully placed explosive charges blew out precut holes in the hull, shown in the above right image. The ship was built in England in 1969 for the Royal Navy and named HMS Bacchante. It was bought by the New Zealand Government in 1981 and renamed HMNZS Wellington. - NZPA
UPDATE 13th Dec 2005: One month.......divers galore!
Today over 20 boats visited F69, a new record!!.......one month old as a reef and the ship is absolutely positively exciting visitors with in excess of 250 divers having traversed her corridors. In fact, one lucky diver has already recovered a "Bennets Ale", one of 24 bottles of fine beer, hidden on F69 and redeemable at Island Bay New World for 2 dozen of the same (per bottle retrieved). F69 is sitting proudly upright on the seabed and becoming home to the south coast's vibrant marine life.....ready to entertain the adventure diver in the water whilst providing an exciting city nearby for after the dive. Ideal for the hungry diver with many other high quality attractions and the widest assortment of restaurants, cafe's and bar's found anywhere!
New pic's of the big day one month ago.....thanks to those that have contributed images....friends, the DomPost, TVNZ.
On the day its was reported that 100,000 people were on the coast watching and another 20,000 stuck in traffic trying to get there. The above images illustrate the never before coastal gridlock on the day!
then the moment happened....F69's horns sounded and three very loud mortars fired from the beach and then the "Button was pushed" setting off fireworks, a fireball and her guns....
great timing....one of Cook Strait Ferries passes whilst F69 sinks....
Then the bridge takes on water....
First to dive on F69, the Mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast, bottle of champagne in hand,
shares it with the editor of the Dominion Post, Tim Pankhurst, sitting astride the now silenced guns....
Another diver explores the bridge of the world's latest artificial reef .....
Watch the TVNZ sinking documentary on-line
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
Behind the Scenes on F69
Sunday: The journey of the Wellington (14:40)
Nov 20, 2005
Last weekend the frigate Wellington was sunk off the south coast of the Wellington to become a reef for divers, but it's been a long journey to the bottom of the sea.
The frigate Wellington, once the pride of the British and New Zealand navies, soon to be the capital's latest tourist attraction.
Wellington began life in britain in 1968 as the Royal Navy's HMS Bacchante. In 1986 the New Zealand Navy bought, refitted and renamed her Wellington.
In 1999, Wellington was retired, this once proud vessel bound for the scrap heap.
Her reprieve came in the form of one man, Marco Zeeman, a Wellington engineer and entrepreneur.
"It probably would have gone to India and pulled up on the beaches there and cut up as razor blades and reinforcing rods, which would be a crying shame," he says.
Zeeman, as you'll soon realise, is an ideas man, and this was his idea for the old warship.
He reckoned he could bring Wellington, the frigate, to Wellington, the city, sink it off the rugged south coast and turn it into a reef for divers.
"I thought crikey there is no way Wellington should go to Taranaki, or Gisborne, or the South Island, you know its Wellington's ship and it had to come home," he says.
But when Zeeman found the 3000 tonne warship, pennant number F69, she was gathering rust alongside the Devonport wharf in Auckland.
What would she be worth as scrap? Zeeman thinks close to $700,000.
"Compared to maybe $7.5 million dollars a year income into the region, I think its a good investment," he says.
And he bought if for a dollar from the government.
The government let her go for a bargain basement price because Zeeman was planning a much bigger bang for his buck.
Sinking the Wellington is a $1.5 million project run by a charitable trust.
And it's been a six year grind of lobbying and negotiating for permission and resource management consents to send this old lady to the bottom of the sea.
"I must say the excitement's building actually. It's all been a bit of a blur, the last month, but seeing her like this& the emotions are starting to happen& wow &we actually own a warship...it's pretty cool," Zeeman says.
Hundreds of kilometres of wire and cable must be removed to make it safe for divers to explore. Even the very heart of the vessel is being gutted.
"This will be where the real hard work starts from day one, when she arrives in Wellington, take the heads off the engine and get rid of all the snags and make it safe for divers to come through here.
"With the water flowing through here you're going to end up with algae and stuff in here and before you know it there'll be schooling fish living in here. It's going to be pretty neat," he says.
But not everything will go. The guns will stay, this old warship saw service in the Falklands war and patrolled the Arabian Sea enforcing the trade embargo on Iraq.
Artificial reefs have been created all over the world from old warships. Machines that were built to kill now put to use attracting sea life and bringing in millions in tourist dollars.
Zeeman says the spin-offs are huge.
"At least 15,000 divers a year, which have to be catered to by dive shops who are already buying new boats, so the impact is already occurring. Jobs will happen around that, cafés are going to get busier, divers come out very hungry... the diver is a high spend tourist and a long stay tourist, it's great," he says.
UPDATE 13th Nov 2005: F69 has landed gently on the seabed, Project Wellington ends in success!!
A spectacular day, a 3 mortar salute, the ships very own horns, daylight fireworks, a fireball and subsequent mushroom cloud and a very speedy sinking at less than two minutes...a new world record!
....and now the frigate Wellington is a reef and life is already attracted to her below the surface. Divers may be the first but the fish will soon follow. Image below taken on the very first dive....one image was taken in the hanger and the other is of Wellington's very own Mayor and daring diver, sitting on the guns. Well done Kerry....
UPDATE 12th Nov 2005: FULL STEAM AHEAD!
We are all go for tomorrow....
Weather will be perfect for those that will be out there for this once in a lifetime experience.
Two CentrePort tugs uplift the former HMNZS Wellington from Taranaki Wharf at 6.00am and tow her gently to her final resting place by approx 8.00am, Sunday the 13th of November, 2005. Spectator boats are required to keep 100m away during this time.
What a lucky day for such a magnificent moment in the path of Project Wellington - achieving the goal set out before the Trust over 5 years ago. Many thanks to all involved and made this all possible. Thank you to WCC and our sponsors, volunteers and the team that prepared F69 for her new life under the sea.
The ship has been made as diver safe as possible with twice as many holes as Waikato, making F69 a world class divewreck. I look forward to personally seeing marine life colonise her structure and interior, and to those that dive her, send me a report of what you see when you visit F69 and Ill record it.
Remember, dive safe, dive trained and dive with a buddy!
May see you on the water tomorrow.....perfect weather!!!!! Excellent!
UPDATE 11th Nov 2005: 1 xtra day to go due to weather delay!!
Yes, unfortunately we have had to postpone by a day the big day....so Sunday 13th (what a lucky number, I was born on a 13th) is now sink day (weather permitting). The wind has been consistent for the last 2 days, unlike Wellington, and we have had to succumb to not acheiving the sink day, set in stone months ago. This delay has likely impacted the many parties and social occassions planned for Saturday afternoon/evening and for that, we can only blame the weather.....sorry! Im not happy either......
Meanwhile, the day was a very busy one as we finished cleanup and received the all clear from those inspecting our work and passing the ship as "Ready For Sinking". We would like to thank the Greater Wellington Regional Council Environmental Monitoring Unit and the Harbours Department crew for their technical advice and direction. The City has clearly prepared for this big day with signage around the coast (pictured below) as the team, led by Geoff Goss (also pictured below), finished of the final removal of rubbish and scrap from F69.
UPDATE 10th Nov 2005: 2 days to go!!
2 days to go and the days are filled with media. TVNZ, TVOne, TV2, TV3, and 5 members from a dive adventure documentary for National Geographic (emerging from side of F69 in picture above), have been following Roy Gabriel and Marco Zeeman over, in and in front of the ship for several days and the days ahead will likely be the same. The rest of the team is hard at work vacuuming, degreasing and preparing the ship for tow. The bridge windows (above) have been removed and a good size diver hole has been cut in the bridge ceiling so divers can swim right on in.....this ship will be a an excellent dive!!!
Geoff Goss (above picture directing traffic from the bow)) and several others worked tirelessly today on getting the 7 tonne mushroom anchor affixed to the bow of F69, no mean feat I can tell you.
Norm focussed scrap and rubbish removal as well as ensuring van loads of volunteers had plenty of sweeping, moving and rubbish clearing to do as possible. Thanks to those that have volunteered recently with cleanup.
New Zealands "soon to be" most accessible and exciting divewreck...
UPDATE 8th Nov 2005: 4 days to go!!
Well the former HMNZS Wellington is all but ready to begin her new vibrant life under the sea. With her masts and funnel removed (above) she looks like a real slinky torpedo boat and will soon be one of the most amazing dives on the planet.
Its full steam ahead for sink day and the City will no doubt empty on the day as 10's of 1000's take to the south coast. We will be anchoring at the sinking site using an 8 tonne musshroom anchor (above)which will stay attached for a few months before being retrieved from the depths. This will allow the ship to bed into the seabed nicely with a few good swells over her. The vacuuming continues and she is looking clean and diver safe...
New Zealands "soon to be" most accessible divewreck....
.....just minutes from Wellington's International Airport and the creative capital of NZ!
UPDATE 4th Nov 2005: 8 days to go!!
Today we have been very busy and the vacuum cleaners have begun. Rubbish continues to pour from the ship and holes keep appearing in every nook and crannie. Preparation for the mast removal is now completed this morning early am the mast is being removed. The chinese laundry is now minus two washing machines, the stern capstain has been cut from the flight deck and a round holes now exists. Many more holes have appeared in her side....
Its full steam ahead for sink day and the City will no doubt empty on the day as 10's of 1000's take to the south coast.
UPDATE 2nd Nov 2005: 10 days to go!!
Well, sink day is so close that the ship, shop and the wharf are now closed to all access. Sorry for the inconvenience to regular runners and walkers. Brass Sponsor plaque orders have closed off as well as they will need to be made and then attached before sink day.
Yes, we are all starting to feel the vibes on what is getting to be a bigger event everyday. It will be a huge day....Im certainly hoping for more of this perfect weather.
A small team, Tania, Lockie, John, Roy and I went to a secret location and tested some of the Copper Linear cutting charges we are using to sink F69, on an actual plate steel section cut from her hull. The Copper Linear and the resulting cuts made are shown below. Excellent result!
Wellington is no longer the ship shape place to wander she once was, as she is now full of holes with many more happening this week. Open plan would be one way to describe the ship now. Roy Gabriel, explosive dynamo and his partner John Jennings from WA, with more tonnage in shipping sunk under their belts than most u-boat captains, have applied the lessons learned from 19 other ships and as a result F69 will definitely be a world class divewreck. Tick tick tick....the clock is ticking!
Its all go for sink day and the vibrancy of the City is absolutely positively adding to a very significant day for Wellington.
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