ex HMAS Canberra Site Survey Dive

Saturday, 21 November 2009: VARS Media Release

21 November 2009 — We are happy to report that on Saturday, 21 November 2009, a Dive Victoria technical dive team was contracted to do a site survey dive on the HMAS Canberra for the government contractor, the Birdon Group, to assess the readiness and safety of the site for recreational divers ahead of the sites public opening.

The site is in fantastic condition perfectly settled listing to her starboard side. She has already established some growth over her and many different schools of juvenile fish were seen through out the dive. The dive through her proved to be far beyond what we possibly imagined. There are still dozens of features in place making each and every room exciting to explore. We were extremely pleased with the way the ship has been prepared and the subsequent cleanup of the items that came loose or were damaged when she filled with water.

The dive showed that the site has been justified in remaining closed until the unstable and damaged items could be removed or made safe. We noted a couple of additional items that will need minor attention and should easily be completed by the commercial dive team during their next dives.

We surveyed depths of key points around the ship and are pleased to say that there is plenty of this wreck safely able to be explored by Open Water certification divers and then the Advanced divers will enjoy exploring down to her maximum depth on the sand of 29m. Penetrating the wreck showed that even seasoned wreck explorers will enjoy exploring this wreck as the maze of rooms each with different items to view means many dives will be needed to truly explore her end to end. Whilst the ship has been made very safe with multiple entry and exit points through out, there is still a true feeling of exploring a real wreck with many over head areas making this a true wreck to respect.

The mooring system appears to have been ideally placed being quite close to the ship and will allow for a good setup to facilitate efficient and safe access too and from the wreck.

Whilst the sea conditions were very good, we have no reason to believe the surge effects even in larger seas will be any worse than is currently experienced on many of the Victoria other open sea sites. It was evident that many areas inside the ship will be protected form surge giving great opportunity to plan a dive to suit the conditions of the day.

We conducted the survey dive using twin tanks and on Nitrox 32 gas and found that this site is perfectly suited to that sort of application giving us a long dive time and enabling us to work through the wreck upward deck by deck and still avoid decompression.

This ship is spectacular and all the team agreed that is without a doubt the best scuttled wreck site any of us have dived. We look forward to the final clean up dives being completed over the next week and then the official clearance and opening of the site hopefully very soon after.

A short video of the dive will be uploaded on various web sites once our report has been released from the contractor.

Jason Salter
Managing Director, The Dive Victoria Group Pty Ltd
Treasurer, Victorian Artificial Reef Society Inc (VARS)

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