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Coogee Idea No Sinking Ship

By Marcus Braid on January 7, 2016 in

Photo: www.hmasadelaide.com

Photo: www.hmasadelaide.com

NSW Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith is rallying support for the innovative idea to sink an ex-Navy ship off the coast of Coogee.

The artificial dive reef would be created four kilometres out to sea under the plan developed by the Gordon’s Bay Scuba Diving Club. The club’s targeted ship is the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Sydney IV, which was decommissioned in November.

“I’ve got to get the Federal Government to agree to hand over the ship,” Mr Notley-Smith said. “To have the HMAS Sydney off the coast of Sydney is an appropriate use of that now decommissioned vessel.”

Mr Notley-Smith said the plan was put to him a couple of years ago, and the feedback has been positive.

“I’ve written to the Defence Minister Marise Payne asking for that ship, and she’s very keen to explore the idea,” he said. “I have the backing of the NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres, and Mike Baird has indicated he’s willing to back it.”

“I said go out there and write some articles about it, and get some sort of feedback from the public. It’s all been generally good, and I’ve said I’ll support them as much as I can to make it a reality.”

There is a precedent when it comes to scuttling ex-Navy ships, with the ex-HMAS Adelaide sunk off the coast of Avoca Beach on the Central Coast.

“There was some controversy around the thinking of the HMAS Adelaide, but it’s since been demonstrated that there is no environmental downside as long as the ship is prepared appropriately,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

“It makes it incredibly more attractive to a lot of local people. We just don’t have this sort of facility locally, but it’s also a great tourist attraction for those people who are scuba enthusiasts who come to Sydney, especially for those who don’t have time to go up north to dive the Adelaide. It will be conveniently located and have Coogee’s name attached to it.”

Randwick Councillor Tony Bowen has thrown his support behind the initiative, provided all the environmental checks and balances are addressed.

“Obviously there would be hazardous substances associated with a navy ship, like paint and any other equipment,” Cr Bowen said.

“Provided it’s done right, I can’t see any issue with it. As long as the environmental side is addressed, I think it will be a good thing. It’s below the surface.”

The potential to create a new marine habitat is driving the idea and exciting the diving community.

“I know that there’s a really good culture of diving around Coogee,” Cr Bowen said. “We’ve had the dive school down there for many years, and we have some of the best snorkelling in the world. I don’t have a problem with it at all, provided there is no risk to the environment.

“The reality is there’s probably 50 wrecks off the coast of Sydney, maybe more, where there’s all sorts of habitat created that people probably don’t even know about. It’s funny how the natural world has a good knack for making use of these things.”