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

Exclusive: Titanic cost sinks plan to right Tobruk

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 world-class 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 divers 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-the-less, 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 ex-HMAS Tobruk will be an excellent 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.



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