Sink the Canberra

What has happened and what's still to do

The Steps to Sink the ex HMAS Canberra in Victoria


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

ex HMAS Canberra Starboard Openings
ex HMAS Canberra Starboard Openings. Port side is similar.

Green is for the steps completed. Red is the step we are currently at. And the rest are the steps still waiting to be done.

  1. October 2006: The Federal Government agrees to make the ex HMAS Canberra available for sinking as an artificial reef and dive wreck in Victoria and commits to providing A$2.8 million towards the cost of the project.
  2. October 2006: The Victorian Government agrees to take the ex HMAS Canberra and prepare the ship for sinking as an artificial reef and dive wreck in Victoria and commits to providing A$500,000 towards the cost of the project.
  3. July 2007: The Federal Government agrees to take responsibility for preparation of the ex HMAS Canberra and make $7 million in funding available. Project management responsibility is handed over to the Defence Material Organisation (DMO).
  4. August 2007: DMO issue Request for Tender documents for the preparation of the ex HMAS Canberra. VARS is named in the tender documents as a key party the successful contractor will need to consult with.
  5. September 2007: Tender submissions close with a number of submission having been received.
  6. May 2008: The Victorian Government signs the deed of gift with the Federal Government and takes ownership of the ex HMAS Canberra.
  7. May 2008: DMO appoints Birdon Group as the successful contractor to clean and prepare the ship in compliance with environmental regulations and diver safety standards.
  8. May-June 2008: Birdon Group tows the ex HMAS Canberra from Rockingham, WA to Geelong, Victoria.
  9. Birdon Group, Parks Victoria and VARS develop engineering plans and specifications for reef preparation, placement site management.
  10. July 2008 to January 2009: Birdon Group clean and prepare the ex HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef and dive wreck in Geelong, Victoria to guidelines used by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).
  11. Complete and submit permit applications to all government agencies.
  12. Commission an independent report on the ships hull and interior to ensure that no marine pests are present on the hull prior to sinking.
  13. February to July 2009: Parks Victoria, VARS et al make the final decision on the optimal site for the new artificial reef and wreck dive site.
  14. September 2009: The Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) have published a number of documents related to the Scuttling Activities and Associated Requirements. See Ship Cleanup.
  15. October 2009: Birdon Group tow the ex HMAS Canberra out to the site, orientate it properly and sink the ship.
    — Tow to site: Saturday, 3 October 2009. Left Geelong Grain Wharf at 5.30 am and crossed the Port Phillip Bay Rip at 2.34 pm.
    — Scuttle ship: 2 pm on Sunday, 4 October 2009.
  16. Properly experienced and skilled clearance divers will ensure the wreck has been properly sunk and is in a completely safe condition.
  17. Appropriate authorities will declare the site safe to dive.
  18. Parks Victoria will install a mooring system with moorings allocated for commercial operators and private boats.
  19. Parks Victoria will declare the site is open for diving.
  20. Parks Victoria will introduce an online booking system for mooring permits for private boats to access the ex HMAS Canberra dive site.
  21. Parks Victoria will announce which commercial dive operators have been granted mooring licences to conduct diving tours at the ex HMAS Canberra dive site.
  22. Monitor reef's ecosystem activity and environmental health.

Where is she now?

The ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 was successfully towed from Rockingham, WA to Geelong, Victoria. She arrived at the Port of Geelong on Wednesday, 11th June 2008.

ex HMAS Canberra arrives in Port Phillip Bay on tow from Rockingham, WA to Geelong
10-June-2008 The ex HMAS Canberra arrives in Port Phillip Bay
on tow from Rockingham, WA to Geelong, VIC


Video of the ex HMAS Canberra arriving in Port Phillip Bay
Video filmed, produced and narrated by Andrew Newton.

The dock where she has been prepared is a secure area with no access to the public. Thus it is not possible for VARS to organise tours. Besides, in her current state ready for scuttling, with diver access holes everywhere, it would be extremely difficult to make the ex HMAS Canberra safe for a public walkthrough.

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