Ship Cleanup

Preparing the ex HMAS Canberra to become a magical underwater ecosystem

Ships have been a part of the underwater landscape for thousands of years.

Ships have been a part of the underwater landscape for thousands of years. Since the advent of civilization hundreds of thousands of ships have sunk to the bottom of the world's oceans for many different reasons. Most of these ships were not cleaned of any of the fuel, oil or cargo that they contained as they went down. Despite this, many of these ships have become magical underwater ecosystems.

Scuba diver on the Coogee wreck, Victoria, Australia
Diver on the Coogee wreck
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

The idea to intentionally deploy fully decontaminated, obsolete ships as marine habitat, research platforms, educational opportunities or recreational destinations is a relatively new one in human history. The primary concern is that all projects are protective of the public health and the environment.

Obsolete ships that are tied to a pier or anchored in some forgotten bay are considered environmental liabilities. The artificial reefing process safely turns these unwanted ships into wonderful assets for coastal communities.

Preparing the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02


Video walkthrough showing before and after the preparation.
Video fimed, produced and narrated by Alan Beckhurst (VARS Committee member)

The ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 is being transformed from a vessel to a diving reef. This has involved the removal of all hazardous and toxic materials, and the stripping of all features within the vessel that could be a safety hazard to divers. In addition, holes have been cut into the vessel so that all cavities have at least two entrances/exits.

ex HMAS Canberra Starboard Openings
ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 Starboard Openings. Port side is similar.
ex HMAS Canberra 3 Deck
ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 3 Deck.
ex HMAS Canberra 4 Deck
ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 4 Deck.

The finally prepared vessel was then examined as part of the application for a permit under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, which has stringent requirements regarding what is appropriate prior to permitting the scuttling to proceed.

The point, after all, is to enhance the habitat, not pollute it!

Human beings have been altering their environment since the time of the hunter-gatherers. For the most part, this activity has been undertaken for the purpose of making the world safer and to provide easier access to food. The idea of altering the environment to make it better for the environment's sake is a brand new one in terms of human history.

Environment Assessment Referrals
ex-HMAS Canberra Dive Site

The following documents are the Environment Assessment Referrals on the ex-HMAS Canberra Dive Site by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE).

No EES Reason for Decision (Adobe PDF | 282.3 KB)
2009-07 EES Referral Form (Adobe PDF | 742.42 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 1 A - Area as agreed (Adobe PDF | 1.72 MB)
2009-07 Attachment 1 B - Site (Adobe PDF | 58.09 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 2 - Profile of ex-HMAS Canberra (Adobe PDF | 62.65 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 3 - 1 Scuttling Plan (Adobe PDF | 148.72 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 3 - 2 Scuttling Plan Att 1 - Activity Listing (Adobe PDF | 100.26 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 3 - 3 Scuttling Plan Att 1 Ann A - Scuttling design drawings (Adobe PDF | 1.72 MB)
2009-07 Attachment 3 - 4 Scuttling Plan Att 1 Ann B - Scuttling Mooring (Adobe PDF | 119.81 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 3 - 5 Scuttling mooring and positioning arrangements (Adobe PDF | 119.81 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 4 - Managment and Monitoring Plan (Adobe PDF | 926.15 KB)
2009-07 Attachment 5 - Marine Environment Report (Adobe PDF | 7.84 MB)

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