Geelong Advertiser, 5 September 2009

Ocean Grove scuttling of HMAS Canberra to be a real blast

Ocean Grove scuttling of HMAS Canberra to be a real blast

By Alex Oates, Geelong Advertiser

Saturday, 5 September 2009 — Seventeen explosives will simultaneously rip through HMAS Canberra, sending it to the depths of ocean within minutes.

Thousands of litres of water will flood into the vessel as it slips below the surface and sits upright in the muddy seafloor of Bass Strait two nautical miles off Ocean Grove.

Experts say the scuttling of the decommissioned navy frigate will take just four minutes, while the installation of high-tech explosives on the vessel's hull could take several hours.

Weather permitting, HMAS Canberra is scheduled for a 10-hour tow from the grain wharf in North Geelong to a holding point on Port Phillip Bay at 6am on Friday.

It will then cross the Port Phillip Bay Rip at slack tide at 12.23 p.m. and once the ship reaches the sinking site, final preparations will be made.

Navy personnel will create a 1000m exclusion zone around the ship and will enforce a 500m intruder-intercept zone.

An orange smoke flare will be activated five-minutes before the scuttling, and another will be fired into the sky 60 seconds before detonation.

The Geelong Advertiser understands that during preparations for the scuttling, 17 explosives will be positioned around the hull of the ship.

A copper linear flex cutting device will be placed around a metal frame and bolted flush to the vessel.

Charge wires will be fed through the stern of the ship, tightly tied and let out onto polystyrene floats.

The device will cut a hole through the wall of the ship, sending thousands of litres of water inside at "enormous power".

"Once 17 holes are cut, and approximately 4100 tonnes of metal begins to sink, it all happens pretty quickly," a source said.

Geelong Advertiser Online

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