Geelong Advertiser, 3 October 2009

Bluff the best view for HMAS Canberra sinking

Bluff the best view for HMAS Canberra sinking

By Alex Oates, Geelong Advertiser

Thousands are expected to take to the water for the scuttling of the HMAS Canberra tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 October 2009 — Marine experts say hundreds of boaters are planning to catch a glimpse of the historic scuttle, which is scheduled for 9.15am.

Dozens of charters along the Victorian coastline are expected to take to Bass Strait to watch the Navy frigate sink to its watery grave two nautical miles off Ocean Grove.

Charter companies, including Sorrento's Moonraker Charters, have been inundated with bookings as people race to secure their view from the ocean.

Dive Victoria and Queenscliff Dive Centre managing director Jason Salter has also been flooded with request to board his five charters, with 120 gearing up to see the scuttling live.

Unfortunately, some 40 dive enthusiasts have missed the boat.

"We're well and truly overbooked," Mr Salter said yesterday.

"We've got a few pollies on board and we're ready to go."

Mr Salter said he was relieved to learn on Thursday the scuttling would finally take place.

"It's been frustrating because we're eager to get in and dive, but it's only been delayed by the weather, and we all know how the weather works," he said.

Keen diver and member for South Barwon Michael Crutchfield is eager to see the ship sink. "It not only will be a spectacle on Sunday, it will be a massive drawcard for the Bellarine Peninsula," he said.

Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville and Federal Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman are also boarding charters to watch the scuttling.

Victorian Artificial Reef Society committee member Alan Beckhurst said those unable to get on the water could view the scuttling at Barwon Heads.

"The best place to view it would be Barwon Heads bluff," he said.

"Another good viewpoint would be the sand dunes off Ocean Grove but you'll be looking at the bum of the boat. At the Bluff you'll see the ship side-on."

Weather permitting, the former Australian Navy warship is scheduled for a 10-hour tow by tug from the grain wharf in North Geelong at 6am today.

The ship will make its way to the Port Phillip Bay Rip, crossing at slack tide about 1.20pm today before resting at the sinking site where final preparations will be done.

Navy personnel will create a 1km exclusion zone, and a safety 500m intruder intercept zone to prevent other marine crafts entering the site.

Five minutes before the scuttling an orange smoke flare will be activated and a minute before firing another flare will be set off into the sky with an audible signal lasting 15 seconds.

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