Endeavour to sink navy ship
Instead of sailing on emerald green waters into the Marlborough Sounds, the Endeavour could find itself on the murky seabed as a home for octopus and fish.
At least, its namesake could, in a radical idea from diving enthusiasts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s landing.
A navy boat named after Cook’s ship is scheduled for retirement next year, and an idea to scuttle the vessel as a marine habitat at Ship Cove is gaining traction.
Waikawa Dive Centre owner Stuart Scaife believed the project could tie history and tourism together to create a world-class dive site.
‘‘The timing, the vessel, the name, everything lines up. It is perfect,’’ he said. ‘‘The boat is aptly named and headed for decommission, why not use it?’’
The original Endeavourfirst sailed into Ship Cove on January 15, 1770. Cook spent more than 100 days at Ship Cove, in the Queen Charlotte Sound, on five occasions.
The bay became Cook’s favourite anchorage in New Zealand.
The HMNZS Endeavour was built in South Korea in 1988, and is the third ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
The 7300-tonne fleet oiler was scheduled for decommission in April 2018.
The sea floor in the Marlborough Sounds was largely silt, Scaife said, and structures beneath the water gave life to some of the most interesting areas of the marine habitat.
Octopus, crayfish, algae and fish congregated around seabed formations and a large naval ship beneath the water had huge potential for Marlborough, Scaife said.
‘‘When there is a structure, whether it be a wreck or a rock or a tree, stuff grows around it,’’ he said. ‘‘The benefit for something like this is not just for a dive site, but to create a great habitat for the marine life. We’ve got to sew the seed and gather some momentum for this.’’
A post on the Waikawa Dive Centre Facebook page garnered almost 150 likes in support of the idea. Scaife met organisers of Totaranui 250 Trust to discuss the idea on Thursday.
The trust was set up to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing and Marlborough’s dual Maori and European history.
It was announced last year the trust would receive $100,000 a year over the next three years from the Marlborough District Council towards celebrating the nationally significant event. This was on top of a $5 million commitment from central government to assist commemoration events across landings sites in New Zealand.
"The timing, the vessel, the name, everything lines up. It is perfect." Waikawa Dive Centre owner Stuart Scaife