Dive re­searcher deems cost to right wreck ‘as­tro­nom­i­cal’: re­port

NewsMail - - FRONT PAGE - KATIE HALL katie.hall@news-mail.com.au

EX-HMAS TOBRUK will re­main on her side, with the cost to right it deemed to be “as­tro­nom­i­cal”, and pos­ing a sig­nif­i­cant risk of dam­ag­ing the ship. In­stead, $1M will be spent to pro­mote the “world-class” dive site.

EX-HMAS TOBRUK will re­main on her side, with the cost to right it deemed to be “as­tro­nom­i­cal”, and pos­ing a sig­nif­i­cant risk of dam­ag­ing the ship.

In­stead, the state govern­ment will spend $1 mil­lion to pro­mote the wreck as a world­class dive site.

The de­ci­sion was re­leased ex­clu­sively to the NewsMail in a me­dia state­ment by Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and the Great Bar­rier Reef Leeanne Enoch.

The de­ci­sion comes af­ter a in­de­pen­dent re­port com­mis­sioned by the Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice, and pre­pared by dive re­searcher Ter­rence Cum­mins was an­a­lysed by the govern­ment.

Mr Cum­mins un­der­took two sur­vey dives on Septem­ber 7, spend­ing one hour seven min­utes in the wa­ter.

Ms Enoch said by not right­ing the wreck, it would give dive op­er­a­tors and tourists ac­cess sooner rather than later.

“Ex­pe­ri­enced recre­ational divers, ves­sel sal­vage ex­perts, naval ar­chi­tects and marine en­gi­neers pro­vided Queens­land Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice with ex­pert ad­vice af­ter as­sess­ing the ship in its cur­rent po­si­tion,” Ms Enoch said.

“They pointed out a num­ber of se­ri­ous risks as­so­ci­ated with right­ing the ship, the main be­ing se­ri­ously dam­ag­ing the ship. On top of that, it could have been at least 12 months be­fore the ship could be used as a dive site.

“Prepa­ra­tion work on the Tobruk is ex­pected to take 40 work­ing days, weather de­pen­dent. The site will then open to soon af­ter, putting Wide Bay on the map as one of our state’s top tourism des­ti­na­tions.”

The govern­ment did not pro­vide com­ment on what the to­tal cost would have been to right the wreck, or whether the com­pany that scut­tled the ship had in­sur­ance.

The re­port said it was “ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing to some that the ex-HMAS Tobruk did not set­tle on the sea floor as in­tended”.

It went on to high­light two other “world class” dive wrecks that also lie on their side, and “that ves­sel ori­en­ta­tion does not seem to have an overly neg­a­tive im­pact on gen­eral di­ve­abil­ity and po­ten­tial en­joy­ment for vis­i­tors”.

Mr Cum­mins in the re­port sug­gested “that rather than dwell on the change in ori­en­ta­tion of the ex-HMAS Tobruk, stake­hold­ers should be en­cour­aged to fo­cus, and re­port, that dives on the ves­sel will be sim­i­larly en­joy­able and ex­tremely at­trac­tive to divers as orig­i­nally planned”.

“Fea­tures such as gen­eral ac­ces­si­bil­ity, safety and the ac­tual his­tory of the ves­sel seem to be, and are, more im­por­tant to divers,” he said.

“In sum­mary, the present ori­en­ta­tion of the ex-HMAS Tobruk is most likely to re­sult in a dif­fer­ent dive to that orig­i­nally ex­pected, but none-the­less, just as po­ten­tially en­joy­able than she would have been in the orig­i­nal planned ori­en­ta­tion.”

Ms Enoch said $1 mil­lion would be used to fund an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign to at­tract divers to the Tobruk.

“The Palaszczuk Govern­ment is confident that the exHMAS Tobruk will be an ex­divers cel­lent dive site, and that is why we are in­vest­ing $1 mil­lion to fund a pro­mo­tional and mar­ket­ing cam­paign fo­cus­ing on tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the new dive,” she said.

Ex-HMAS Tobruk was scut­tled on June 29 with the full cost es­ti­mated to be around $10 mil­lion.

Both Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil and Fraser Coast Coun­cil con­trib­uted $1 mil­lion each.

Bund­aberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said there was “no point play­ing a blame game” and wel­comed the govern­ment’s con­tri­bu­tion towards a tourism and mar­ket­ing cam­paign.

“A tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity now ex­ists to mar­ket our re­gion to the world and of­fer a unique wreck-dive ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Pho­tos: Con­trib­uted

UN­DER THE SEA: Pho­tos re­veal what the Tobruk looks like as she rests on the sea floor.

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