Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Jersey Artificial Reef Program


Since 1984, the New Jersey Artificial Reef Program has constructed over 1000 reefs, including over 100 vessels, on its network of 14 ocean sites located from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Reefs are constructed from ships and barges, concrete demolition debris, dredge rock, concrete-ballasted tire units and a variety of other dense materials.

The objective of the program is to create hard structure habitat for Mussels, Sea Basd, Blackfish, Porgy, lobster and many other species of marine life. Once fish and shellfish establish themselves in their new homes - and it doesn't take long - the reefs produce excellent catches of fish for anglers and provide underwater attractions for scuba divers.

New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program is one of the biggest and most successful of any, especially from a diver's perspective. In comparison with most other Atlantic Coast states, New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program has placed more vessels per person and per mile of coastline than any other state. New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program has also placed millions of tons of rock and concrete rubble.

The Artificial Reef Program's free annual newsletter NJ Reef News is available at most dive and tackle shops. If you would like to contact them, you may write to:

Artificial Reef Program
P.O. Box 418
Port Republic
NJ 08241(609) 748-2020


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Scuttle Calypso as scuba diving reef to end Cousteau family feud?


By Hugh Schofield
January 21, 2006

Authorities in La Rochelle are impatient to get rid
of a boat which is now seen as an embarrassing

LA ROCHELLE, France -- In an obscure corner of the old trawler harbour of La Rochelle, hidden from view by the building-site that was once the city's fish-market and forgotten by all but a devoted few, lie the rotting remains of one of the most famous ships of the 20th century.

Heavy-duty rubber straps have been bound round the stern to stop it breaking apart and the front is covered by a white tarpaulin. A large sign warns the curious against coming aboard. Understandably, because the handrails are splitting and the metal floors have rusted through to a thin veneer.

For the intrepid visitor who ignores the advice there is more desolation to come. Inside, where once rang out the cries of hardy crewmen and a thousand instruments whirred, there are now blackened timbers, gaping emptiness and the drip of discoloured rainwater.

This is the pitiful carcass of the legendary Calypso, the former Royal Navy minesweeper that for nearly half a century plied the oceans with the French undersea adventurer Jacques Cousteau, taking a starring role in his celebrated films and television programmes.

Nine years after the commander's death, the ship has fallen victim to a bitter family feud and its chances of a new life as a museum or research centre – let alone taking to the sea again – appear to be receding into the depths.

"We had an expert's report done recently and they said it was no longer a question of repairing the boat, but of rebuilding it," said Marc Parnaudeau, who is in charge of the Calypso dossier at the La Rochelle town hall.

"Every part would have to be replaced because the wood has completely rotted through. But it's like the bicycle which you change every part of. In the end you have a completely new one," he said.

The sad tale of the Calypso's decline began in 1996 – a year before Cousteau's death at the age of 87– when the ship was badly damaged in a collision with a barge in Singapore. Towed back to Marseille, the Calypso was brought to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast two years later where the plan was to make it the centrepiece of a projected maritime museum.

"The theme of the museum was going to be submarine exploration – so it would have been perfect. But then the questions over the ownership suddenly emerged," said Parnaudeau.

Throughout its decades of service, the Calypso had in fact been the property of the Anglo-Irish millionaire Sir Loel Guinness, who leased it to Cousteau for a nominal rent. But since the commander's death two associations have laid claim to his legacy.

On one side the Equipe Cousteau – the French arm of the US-based Cousteau Society – represents the interests of Cousteau's widow Francine. On the other, the Campagnes Océanographiques Françaises (COF) is backed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the commander's son by his first marriage, as well as by several of his old crew such as chief diver Albert Falco, now 78.

Authorities in La Rochelle are impatient to get rid of a boat which is now seen as an embarrassing encumbrance.

Francine – a former air-hostess 40 years Cousteau's junior who married him six months after the death of his first wife Simone – says that since the collapse of the La Rochelle museum idea she has struck a deal with an American company to have the Calypso turned into a scientific education centre in the Bahamas.

But the COF wants the ship to stay in France. "This is an historic vessel that should have been classified as part of the French national heritage a long time ago," said Jean-Michel. According to Falco, Cousteau told him shortly before he died that he wanted the Calypso to return to the Mediterranean.

"The boat needs us. I'd be ready to start out tomorrow," Falco told Le Monde.

Last November, a court in Paris appeared to settle the matter when it ruled in favour of Francine. A document showing that the Calypso was registered under the COF's name in the 1970s was erroneous, the judge found. But the COF immediately said that it would appeal – earning a vicious denunciation from Francine.

Meanwhile, the authorities in La Rochelle are impatient to get rid of a boat which is now seen as an embarrassing encumbrance.

"The dispute has gone on so long that we just want to be shot of it. It is heart-breaking, but we have to think ahead. And having the Calypso falling apart on our quayside is not good publicity. We will be happy to help pay the costs of getting her out of here," said Parnaudeau.

Some have suggested the Calypso should be towed out to sea and scuttled. It could then be used as a training area for deep-sea divers. Compared to yet more legal wrangling and years of painful decay, it could prove to be the more fitting end.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Photos from the sinking of the Boeing 737


See the all set of images in the official page of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.

Larry Reeves photos.


Friday, January 20, 2006

The Artificial Reef Society of B.C.


About the ARSBC

The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) is a registered non-profit society in the Province of British Columbia, and a registered tax-deductible charity in Canada. The Society has no paid employees and consists of a volunteer Board of seven Directors, and hundreds of volunteers from BC, Alberta, and the north-west United States, who have worked on our projects.

The ARSBC is a partner with the Vancouver Maritime Museum, located at Kitsilano Point in Vancouver, and through the Cape Breton Project has worked to assist the North Vancouver Museum secure the Cape Breton's triple-expansion steam engine and the last 30 feet of her stern for permanent display.

Mission Statement
The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) creates and promotes artificial reefs for use by SCUBA divers as a means to:

  • Promote economic activity in the vicinity of artificial reef sites;
  • Promote the technologies and procedures required to establish safe and environmentally-friendly artificial reefs;
  • Promote the use of artificial reefs as a means to minimise the impact of recreational SCUBA divers on historical wreck sites and other ecologically-sensitive dive sites;
  • Monitor developments of all our artificial reefs for environmental impact and diver safety.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

B.C. divers sink Boeing 737 as artificial reef


January 14, 2006

CHEMAINUS, British Columbia -- A Boeing 737 made its final descent on Saturday – 20 metres deep into the waters off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Cranes slowly lowered the decommissioned plane into the ocean off Chemainus, about 70 kilometres north of Victoria, slightly more than a month after Environment Canada gave final approval to a plan dreamed up by diving fans.

The Artificial Reef Society of B.C. sunk the plane to create an artificial reef in an area that doesn't have much marine life.

The society expects the new reef to be home to dozens of species of sea life within a couple of years, which it hopes will, in turn, lure more divers.

Boaters were on hand to watch the lowering of the plane, a 1970s-era Boeing that had not flown since 2001.

The plane, which had been stripped down, weighs 15 tonnes and measures 30 metres long.
It was to be placed on 4.5-metre high stands on the ocean bottom so divers could swim under it.

The diving society, which began work on the project in 2002, has used ships to create six other artificial reefs in the province.

For the latest project, it received approval from six local First Nations groups as well as Environment Canada.

The group said the plane's resting place was chosen for its lack of sea life, blaming a century of forest-industry debris.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oriskany sinking cleared


Navy Times
By Lynette Wilson
January 11, 2006

Pensacola (Fla.) - If all goes according to plan, the Oriskany could take its place as a fishing reef on the Gulf of Mexico’s floor by June 1, just in time to beat the 2006 hurricane season.

Capt. Larry Jones oversees the Navy’s inactive ship program, and he doesn’t plan to haul the Oriskany back to Pensacola from Beaumont, Texas, unless he can sink it, he said.

“I know you want it. I want you to have it,” Jones told a crowd of more than 100 people gathered for a public hearing on the decommissioned aircraft carrier’s fate Tuesday. “That’s why we are here to address the PCB issue first and foremost.”

The EPA has determined that the 700 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, left on board primarily in the Oriskany’s electrical wiring don’t pose an unreasonable risk to human or marine life.

Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Navy officials outlined the Oriskany’s status Tuesday and responded to questions and concerns at a Pensacola Junior College forum. The public has until Jan. 19 to comment on the proposed sinking. Once the comments are reviewed, the EPA likely will approve the sinking of the ship.

Craig Brown, EPA’s project manager for the Oriskany, has received more than 150 letters and e-mail messages in support of sinking the ship, and not one in opposition, he said.

The plan is to turn the 888-foot flattop used in the Korean and Vietnam wars into an international fishing and diving destination, the pilot project for a new program to cheaply dispose of decommissioned vessels to the benefit of coastal communities throughout the nation.
The only other aircraft carrier available for diving is in Bikini Atoll, in the southwest Pacific, said Fritz Sharar, co-owner of MBT Divers of Pensacola.

“This will be one of a kind (in the nation),” he said.EPA approval is what has kept the Oriskany afloat as projected sink dates have slipped by, beginning in September 2004.

Studies have shown that PCBs cause cancer and have harmful effects on the endocrine, immune and nervous systems of humans and animals. PCBs are persistent and don’t readily breakdown in the environment.Ken Mitchell, a section chief in EPA Region 4, described a diver’s risk of PCB exposure as minimal given the short amount of time spent diving and the route of exposure. The most likely exposure route is through eating contaminated fish or swallowing contaminated water. That threat also is minimized because the PCBs are in solid form and are, for the most part, insoluble in water, he said.


Monday, January 16, 2006

HMNZS Wellington boosts NZ dive industry


December 15, 2005

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Dive companies in Wellington are reporting a huge boom in trade since the HMNZS Wellington frigate was sunk.

It might be 21 metres down in the ocean, but it has become the region's number one dive attraction, pulling in scuba enthusiasts from across the world.

Wellington's dive industry has boomed since the sinking of F69.

"We've been very busy, we've taken two charters a day since the wreck was sunk...probably 200-300 people been out on the wreck since it's been's been really good," says Bill Keddy, owner of the Splash Gordon dive shop.

Since she disappeared below the waves in November, charters have jumped by over 50% and bookings run right through to May.

It was a text book sinking and the frigate's already attracting an impressive array of undersea life.

And it's as safe as wrecks get - divers don't even need torches to find their way around.

"When you're down inside there in the wreck you've always got an escape route that you can clearly always lets a lot of light in so there's a lot of good natural lighting in the wreck," says recreational diver Mike Lester.

Dive companies say the demand for scuba courses has risen by up to 70 percent since the frigate went down.

Just ten minutes from Wellington's airport, the frigate has now been billed as the world's most accessible wreck dive.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Carthaginian II" Lahaina icon sinks into deep sleep


Honolulu Advertiser
By Christie Wilson
December 14, 2005

ALOHA, OLD GIRL: The Carthaginian II, once used as a whaling museum,
is prepared to be towed from Lahaina Harbor to its final resting place off
Puamana. It received a bittersweet send-off yesterday.

LAHAINA, Maui -- The Carthaginian II was given a bittersweet send-off yesterday as it was towed from its longtime berth at Lahaina Harbor and ceremoniously scuttled to the accompaniment of cannon fire.

The 97-foot, steel-hulled vessel, rigged to resemble a 19th-century brig and once used as a whaling museum, sank in 95 feet of water off Puamana, where it will serve as an artificial reef. The operation was undertaken by Atlantis Adventures, a submarine tour company that created similar marine habitats off Waikiki.

Although it had no true historical value, the Carthaginian II was one of Lahaina's most recognizable attractions, featured in thousands of artworks and visitor photographs over the past 32 years. The ship belonged to the nonprofit Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which was spending $50,000 a year to maintain the rusting hulk. When marine engineers advised against further repairs because of the increasing costs, Atlantis was approached two years ago to claim the vessel, which will enhance its underwater tours.

HEADING OUT: Following a Hawaiian blessing, crewmem-bers
prepare to remove the patches over two sets of holes that had
been cut in the steel hull about 18 inches above the water line.

Foundation executive director George "Keoki" Freeland said he was relieved the Carthaginian II had reached its final resting place.

"I was worried the buggah might sink where it was," Freeland said.

The first Carthaginian was a replica of a whaling supply vessel used for the 1966 movie "Hawaii," based on the James Michener novel. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation purchased the wooden boat, but it sank in 1972 on its way to O'ahu for dry dock. A second vessel was acquired, a cement carrier built in Germany in 1920. Rechristened the Carthaginian II, it sailed to Lahaina in 1973. It took seven years for the historically accurate rigging to be assembled dockside.

"It was a focal point for downtown Lahaina. It's like taking a painting off the wall and all of a sudden the wall looks empty," said artist Peg Robertson. "It's sad. I'm going to miss it."

Atlantis spent approximately $350,000 on the Carthaginian project, including preparation of environmental studies. American Marine Services was hired to handle yesterday's operation. Jim Walsh, general manager of Atlantis Submarines Maui, said the sunken ship will not affect swimmers, surfers or other ocean users.

The tour company established its first artificial reef in Hawai'i in 1989 off Waikiki, eventually creating four underwater habitats using a Navy tanker, an old fishing vessel, large sections of two airplanes and a pyramid structure.

GOING DOWN: The Carthaginian II begins its 95-foot descent off
Puamana, where it will serve as an artificial reef.

Walsh said Atlantis staff and Maui Community College students will be monitoring the Puamana site to determine how quickly marine life moves into the shipwreck and what kind of species take up residence there.

Before the Carthaginian II was towed from Lahaina Harbor yesterday, entertainers from the Old Lahaina Lu'au performed "Aloha 'Oe" and members of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation placed lei on the vessel and held signs bidding it aloha.

To prepare for the sinking, 10 tons of concrete had been loaded on board, adding to the 35 tons of material the boat already was carrying. Atlantis' small tugboat Roxie pulled the Carthaginian II out of the harbor before transferring the operation to the larger American Islander tugboat.

A flotilla of about 20 boats was waiting when the Carthaginian II arrived at Puamana, and spectators lined the shore or pulled over on Honoapi'ilani Highway to watch the spectacle. Kahu Charles Kaupu offered a Hawaiian blessing, and after a 3-ton anchor was secured to the bow and the boat was in position, patches were removed from two sets of holes that had been cut into the hull about 18 inches above the water line. Seawater was pumped into the hull, and 27 minutes later the Carthaginian was headed to the sandy bottom.

Observers let loose with applause and whoops of appreciation as the ship quietly slipped beneath the surface. Aboard the Atlantis shuttle boat, Freeland fired three air-shattering blasts from a miniature brass cannon.

Back on shore, Robertson was critical of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation for not having a replacement for the Carthaginian II that would continue to provide residents and visitors with a picturesque view and a historical link to the town's colorful past.

Freeland said because it was impossible to predict when Atlantis would receive state and federal approvals, the organization was not able to arrange for a new attraction to immediately occupy the berth at Lahaina Harbor.

The space is reserved for cultural or historical purposes, and with the Carthaginian now gone, Freeland said the foundation has 120 days to find a new vessel for the berth, or risk losing it to commercial operations.

Freeland has been in discussions with Hui O Wa'a Kaulua about placing one of the group's Hawaiian sailing canoes there. He said that would be ideal because it would be an operational vessel that could be used for educational programs.

Lahaina Harbor expansion plans by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources also will affect future use of the site. Freeland said he has urged DLNR officials to reserve space for the foundation.

DLNR officials were not available yesterday to comment.


Thousands watch HMNZS Wellington sinking


November 13, 2005

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The sinking of the HMNZS Wellington off the capital's coast has gone without hitch, in front of an audience of thousands.

Wellington's south coast was filled with sightseers and Island Bay swarmed with boats watching the scuttling.

Deafening cannons on shore were followed by a series of explosions on the 113 metre vessel, now known simply as F69.

The organisers were worried 40 knot winds might turn the vessel on its side, but the scuttling went according to plan, taking under two minutes for the frigate to sink 26 metres to the sea bed.

F69 spent 36 years' in the service of the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

It was launched by the Royal Navy in 1969 as HMS Bacchante and then in 1983 transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy which renamed it HMNZS Wellington.

Sinking F69 Trust chair Marco Zeeman said the Wellington's last voyage took two hours on Sunday morning, when it was towed by two tugs from its berth at the Taranaki wharf outside Te Papa.

The scuttling was originally to take place on Saturday afternoon, but bad weather forced organisers to postpone it for 24 hours.

A protest group took advantage of the scuttling to voice its concerns over plans to sell coastal land near the site of the sinking.

The Southern Environmental Association wants to stop Wellington City Council selling part of the southern coastal park.

Spokesperson Robert Logan says with attractions such as the frigate adding to the area's appeal, it would be wrong to privatise the land. He says the council needs to ensure the land stays in public hands so it may be used by visitors and tourists visiting the south coast.

The vessel, which will become an artificial marine reef and dive attraction, will now be checked by police divers before being opened to public divers.


TradeMe selling the Navy in bits and lots


The National Business Review
July 29, 2005

New Zealand internet auction website TradeMe is selling off the contents and fittings of the navy frigate HMNZS Wellington before it is sunk (weather permitting) on 12 November off the South Coast as a dive attraction.

It may be the first sale of its kind anywhere in the internet world.

The ship was bought for $1 by Wellington’s Sink F69 Trust and has been undergoing an extensive refit to prepare it for its watery, recreational grave just off Wellington.

TradeMe said the auction process will last three months, beginning today, and the first 20 items on the list include the two tonne aluminium funnel, shells for the 4.5 inch turret gun, blueprints for the ship and the red emergency telephone used by the captain to report damage under fire.

Also in the first lot is the control panel for the ship’s torpedo tubes (torpedoes not included), a veritable steal at just $1000 reserve.

“We were stoked to be approached by the F69 Trust,” said Trade Me manager Sam Morgan.

“We’ve made some inquiries and to our knowledge it’s the first time a warship has been offered up, in part or whole, on an online auction site.”

As well as the expected interest from militaria collectors, the auctions are expected to get strong interest from designers, restaurateurs and former servicemen who served on the leander class frigate during its 30 year commission.