An ex-Australian Navy ship could be sunk off Coogee Beach in New South Wales to create an artificial reef to boost tourism under a proposal by the Gordon’s Bay Scuba Diving club.
The plan is to create Sydney’s first recreational dive wreck by sinking a decommissioned ship 4km off Coogee Beach.
Gordon’s Bay Scuba Diving club secretary John Rowe said the dive wreck would create a new marine habitat and boost the economy – without any negative impact on Coogee Beach.
“It creates an effective marine habitat on what was otherwise a soft-bottomed featureless environment,” he said.
The club’s dream ship is the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Sydney IV, due to be decommissioned on the 7th November.
More than 1200 people, including Coogee MP Bruce Notley Smith, have shown support for the project.
“I’ve done three wreck dives and loved every second of it,” Mr Rowe said.
“The relationship between you and the ship … is a magic secret treasure.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling you get when you go there.”
The club came up with the idea after seeing the former naval warship, the Ex-HMAS Adelaide, sunk off Avoca Beach in 2011.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries reports the site is already home to a healthy marine community of giant cuttlefish, blue groper, kingfish, yellowtail and octopus.
A location near Wedding Cake Island has been identified for the ship, 30 metres under water on a sandy ocean floor away from shipping channels or telecommunication cables.
“When a ship is decommissioned and sold for scrap it can get about $15 to $16 million,” Mr Rowe said. “If we convert it into a dive wreck you could see a return of somewhere between $80-$100 million over 20 years.”
Pro Dive Coogee manager Rod DeGroot said a Sydney dive wreck would boost the diving industry and local tourism.
“In Sydney we have got a lot of historical wrecks, but most are too deep for the average diver,” he said.
“There is limited dive sites that have real mass appeal – this could create a lot of interest in an area which wasn’t a diving location prior to that. And could attract people who have a real love for wrecks,” he said.
The Ex-HMAS Adelaide project at Avoca Beach ran into opposition from local groups who were concerned the ship would pollute the ocean, but an Administrative Appeals Tribunal concluded:
“The level of pollutants now aboard the ship is low, and those that remain are either in very low quantities or inert and unlikely to cause any environmental problem.”
The dive wreck would be accessed by boat from Botany Bay, Rose Bay or Malabar.