Geelong Advertiser, 1 October 2009

No sinking feeling yet

No sinking feeling yet

By Alex Oates, Geelong Advertiser

The scuttling of HMAS Canberra remains in limbo more than three weeks after the event was postponed.

Thursday, 1 October 2009 — Department of Defence bosses yesterday said the decommissioned Royal Australian Navy Ship would not be sunk within the next week because of forecast bad weather.

Defence assets and infantry management director general Ian Donaghue said he was unable to guarantee when the ship would be scuttled, declaring the event was in the lap of the gods.

"We require weather conditions within specific lines and we haven't had those since it was postponed," Mr Donaghue said.

"We're looking at some of the weather modelling, but for us to make a decision we need to place reliance on a firm weather forecast and we can only see that three days before (the scuttling).

"The date will be set as soon as we are able to see two days of weather that meets the requirements of the scuttling plan which was a key part of the DEWHA (Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts) approval of the sea dumping permit.

"Based on current (information) there is no weather window available within the next week. When a decision is made, there may only be two days notice that the scuttling will be occurring."

The former naval frigate was scheduled to be sunk on September 12 but the event was postponed because of predicted bad weather.

Mr Donaghue said contractors and the Department of Defence would not schedule the scuttling based on future forecasts.

"The forecasters have been doing mathematical modelling to find a weather window might but I've been overseeing that since September 12, the original date of the scuttling, and the weather changes from day-to-day, so we're not putting any reliance on future modelling," he said.

"I think everyone from the Victorian Government, the local community, Defence and our contractors are frustrated with Mother Nature but we just have to sit tight."

Mr Donaghue said contractors required two full days of low wind speeds and flat swells.

"We essentially need winds to be less than 20 knots and waves less than 2 1/2m on day one and less than that on the day of the scuttling," he said.

The 4100 tonne, 138m long, 30m high ship will be laid to rest two nautical miles off Ocean Grove, joining 46 other wrecks in the ships' graveyard.

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