Geelong Advertiser, 8 July 2009

Last look before HMAS Canberra goes to watery grave off Ocean Grove

Last look before HMAS Canberra goes to watery grave off Ocean Grove

By Jeff Whalley, Geelong Advertiser

Moving through the dank interior of the HMAS Canberra, decommissioning project co-ordinator Cameron Gibb turns his torch onto a strange sight.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009 — We are in the belly of the old warship with no natural light so the last thing we expect to see is a massive Jules Verne-inspired mural of the HMAS Canberra in battle with a giant squid.

"We're in the mess room and this was painted by one of the crewman," Mr Gibb explains.

The old war ship saw plenty of action in the Persian Gulf, Solomon Islands, Africa and Russia but I'm pretty certain there was a bit of artistic licence with this very cool image of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-styled giant squid.

Although I do like the sailor taking on the beast with a machine gun.

Unfortunately vandals broke into the old ship one night and graffitied the mural.

But all is not lost.

Another worker explains that the work was covered with a special preserving agent that should save it from decay when the boat is sent to its watery grave.

"The graffiti should wash off though," he says.

"Divers will be more than 20m underwater exploring and come across this room and see this great mural."

A worker explains that they tracked down the original artist - Able Seaman Kade Rogers who was happy that his work would live on.

The 4100 tonne, 138m, Adelaide-class, guided-missile frigate had a crew of 210 when fully operational. But today it is just Mr Gibb and a small tour which includes Bellarine MP Lisa Neville.

The Canberra will be sunk off Ocean Grove as a dive wreck after August and today is about showing off the works that have been done to prepare it for its new home.

Over the last year more than 650 tones of material - everything from electrical equipment to dangerous bits of metal - have been taken from the boat. At the same time 350 tones of concrete ballast and 400 tones of water ballast have been installed to help the boat on its way to the bottom of the ocean.

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