Former Navy Frigate HMAS Canberra to Become a Diving and Marine Tourism Attraction

by OldSailor on June 13, 2008

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Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Canterbury after decommissioning, was sunk on November 03, 2007 to become a diving and marine tourism attraction. In the similar way, the decommissioned HMAS Canberra (FFG 02) is getting ready to boost marine tourism in Australia. The Victorian Artificial Reef Society (VARS) a non-profit, Victorian dive community group is on its mission to secure, prepare, sink and make the former HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef dive site for Victoria.

Some of the interesting features of this project are:

  • HMAS Canberra (FFG 02) was in the Royal Australian Navy for 24 years as a long range escort frigate.
  • She was decommissioned on November 12, 2005 at Fleet Base West, Rockingham Western Australia.
  • She will be sunk two nautical miles offshore, in 30 metres of water between Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads, to become a scuba diving attraction.
  • Both the Federal Government and Victorian Government have contributed $7 million and $1.5 million respectively to the project.
  • HMAS Canberra was towed from Rockingham WA on June 03 and is on her way to Geelong.
  • The ship would be at Geelong for the next 10 months for removal of all safety and environmental hazards, including 25,000 kilo metres of wiring, insulation, oil, flooring and 95 tonnes of lead ballast.
  • Ships internal structure will be modified for smooth movement of divers.
  • On completion of these activities the ship will be towed into the designated place, where charges will be positioned to sink the ship by detonation.
  • Tourism Victoria has estimated that the sunken ship will yield $1.3 million annually to the state’s economy.

Here are the technical data of former HMAS Canberra:

  • Launched:December 01, 1978
  • Commissioned:March 21, 1981 at Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Displacement:4,100 tonnes
  • Length:138.1 metres
  • Beam:14.3 metres
  • Armament:
    • 76mm rapid fire gun
    • Harpoon anti-ship missiles
    • Standard surface to air missiles
    • Phalanx Mk15 close-in weapon system
    • 2 triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes for Mk 46 torpedoes
  • Main Machinery:2 General Electric LM2500 gas turbines geared to a single controllable pitch propeller
  • Speed:More than 30 knots
  • Ship’s Company:Approximately 210

Here is the map showing the location of former HMAS Canberra.

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Here are some photographs of former HMAS Canberra

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Image and data sources: HMAS Canberra, Royal Australian Navy , The Age , Victorian Artificial Reef Society

Here is a video clip of former HMAS Canberra on tow.

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