Geelong Advertiser, 27 August 2009

Date set for ship sinking

Date set for ship sinking

By Alex Oates, Geelong Advertiser

Locals have an opportunity to witness the scuttling of the HMAS Canberra

Thursday, 27 August 2009 — Crowds can line the foreshore between Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads as explosives tear through the Royal Australian Navy warship, bringing her to a watery grave on September 12.

The 4100 tonne, 138m-long and 30m-high ship will be laid to rest two nautical miles off Ocean Grove, creating a must-dive site on the Bellarine Peninsula.

"The new underwater wonderland will become an oasis for marine life and offer ideal conditions for experienced divers to explore the ocean and its abundant marine life," Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville said.

"The wreck will boost the region's local economy with dive visitors set to stay in local accommodation, shop in the region's dive shops, dine at our restaurants and buy produce.

"Studies by Tourism Victoria estimate the dive site will generate a net economic benefit of around $1.3 million per annum, which will see new local jobs created in the region."

HMAS Canberra served the country for 24 years, touring the Persian Gulf following the 1992 invasion of Kuwait and helped Australians flee Jakarta in 1998.

The vessel also saw plenty of action in the Solomon Islands, Africa and Russia.
It will begin its final journey on September 10, leaving the Geelong port.

Explosives will send the navy frigate to the ocean floor 30 metres below the surface.

"In a quick period of time it will become an oasis for divers," Ms Neville said. "Fish will make their way through the tunnels and the portholes immediately and within weeks plants will start to grow. It will be one of the most enticing and unique dives in Australia."

The site will not be opened to the general public until an inspection of the vessel is made and confirmed suitable for diving.

Meanwhile, the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum is auctioning three places at the top of the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse to view the scuttling.

Geelong Advertiser, Online

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