Sinking ships for wreck diving sites

Sinking ships for wreck diving sites
Explosives detonating to sink the HMNZS Wellington (F69) in 2005

Sinking ships for wreck diving sites is the practice of scuttling old ships to produce artificial reefs suitable for wreck diving, to benefit from commercial revenues from recreational diving of the shipwreck, or to produce a diver training site.



To prepare a hulk for sinking as a wreck site, several things must be done to make it safe for the marine environment and divers. To protect the environment, the ship is purged of all oils, hydraulic fluids, and dangerous chemicals such as PCBs. Much of the superstructure is removed to prevent the hazard of it eventually caving in from corrosion. Similarly, the interior of the ship is gutted of all structures that corrode quickly, and would be dangerous to divers if they came loose. The ship is thoroughly cleaned, often with the help of volunteers interested in diving. A significant part of the cost of preparing and sinking the ship comes from scrapping the contents of the ship, including valuable materials such as copper wiring. The hulk's suitability as a diving site is enhanced by cutting openings in its hull and interior bulkheads to allow divers access.


The preparation phase removes a significant amount of weight, so the ship sits higher in the water than normal. The ship must be carefully weighed down by filling some sections with water as makeshift ballast tanks to prevent excessive rolling in port or during towing. The ship is towed to the sinking location, usually in shallow waters. The ship is scuttled using dynamite, in a controlled demolition. The holes are blown so that the heavier engine room and stern floods first, then the rest of the hull. The aim is to sink the ship in an upright position.

List of ships sunk for wreck diving

Ships sunk for wreck diving
Year Vessel Name Location Country/Territory
2011 USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) Cape May, New Jersey United States
2011 HMAS Adelaide Avoca Beach, New South Wales Australia
2011 USS Kittiwake West Bay, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
2009 HMAS Canberra Barwon Heads, Victoria Australia
2009 USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10)[1] Key West, Florida United States
2007 HMNZS Canterbury (F421) Bay of Islands New Zealand
2006 Xihwu Boeing 737[2] British Columbia Canada
2005 HMNZS Wellington (F69) Wellington New Zealand
2005 HMAS Brisbane Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia
2004 HMS Scylla Whitsand Bay, Cornwall United Kingdom
2004 USS Oriskany[3] Florida United States
2003 CS Charles L Brown [4] Sint Eustatius Leeward Islands
2003 HMCS Nipigon Quebec Canada
2002 MV Dania[5] Mombasa Kenya
2002 USS Spiegel Grove[6] Florida United States
2002 HMAS Hobart Yankalilla Bay, South Australia Australia
2001 HMCS Cape Breton[2] British Columbia Canada
2001 HMAS Perth[7] Albany, Western Australia Australia
2000 HMCS Yukon[2] San Diego, California United States
2000 Stanegarth Stoney Cove United Kingdom
2000 HMNZS Waikato (F55) Tutukaka New Zealand
1999 HMNZS Tui (1970) Tutukaka Heads New Zealand
1995 HMCS Saskatchewan[2] British Columbia Canada
1997 HMAS Swan[8] Dunsborough, Western Australia Australia
1996 HMCS Columbia[2] British Columbia Canada
1996 MV Captain Keith Tibbetts (formerly Russian-built Frigate 356) Cayman Brac Cayman Islands
1996 Inganess Bay[9] British Virgin Islands
1995 HMCS Mackenzie[2] British Columbia Canada
1992 HMCS Chaudière[2] British Columbia Canada
1991–2001 "Wreck Alley" – The Marie L, The Pat and The Beata[10] British Virgin Islands
1991 MV G.B. Church[2] British Columbia Canada
1990 Fontao Durban South Africa
1990 T-Barge Durban South Africa
1987–2000 Wreck Alley San Diego, California United States
1987 USCGC Bibb[11] Florida United States
1987 USCGC Duane[11] Florida United States
1980 Oro Verde[12] Cayman Islands
1970 Glen Strathallen (sunk to produce a diver training facility) Plymouth United Kingdom

Planned sites

See also


  1. ^ "Vandenberg sinking this morning". Associated Press. MSNBC. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "ARSBC". Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  3. ^ Barnette, Michael C. (2008). Florida's Shipwrecks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5413-6. 
  4. ^ "Charlie Brown Artificial Reef". Golden Rock Dive Center. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ "5 Star PADI IDC Centre, Kenya, Zanzibar". Buccaneer Diving. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  6. ^ "The ''Spiegel Grove'' is believed to be the largest ever wreck deliberately sunk as a diving site". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  7. ^ "HMAS Perth (II) - Royal Australian Navy". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  8. ^ "HMAS Swan (III) - Royal Australian Navy". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  9. ^ "BVI Dive Site: Wreck of the Inganess Bay". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  10. ^ "Cooper Island". Dive BVI. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  11. ^ a b Williams, Chris; Bowen, Linda (2008). "Wrecks of the Duane and Bibb". Advanced Diver Magazine Ezine (1, reprinted from ADM issue 4): 62–72. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  12. ^ "The Cayman Islands Shipwreck Expo Directory Capt. Dan Berg's Guide to Shipwrecks information". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  13. ^ "Anouncing, Annapolis!". Retrieved 2010-08-20. [dead link]


  • National Geographic channel, "The Ship Sinkers"

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