GOING DOWN: The HMAS  Tobruk  leans to the starboard side as it sinks in the waters of Bundaberg.
GOING DOWN: The HMAS Tobruk leans to the starboard side as it sinks in the waters of Bundaberg. Alistair Brightman

Tobruk correction could take 10 years off shipwreck's life

CORRECTING the position of ex-HMAS Tobruk could shorten the shipwreck's lifespan beneath the water by 10 years, a spokesman for the Regional Dive Wreck Advisory Group has revealed.

Tourism operators, the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast councils and the community continue to wait for Birdon, the contractor that scuttled the vessel last month, to submit their report on whether the ship's positioning should be righted.

Scott Rowe, spokesman for the advisory group, said it was unclear on what would happen with the wreck.

"If they right it, there's risks and costs involved and there could be insurance issues but I'd be surprised if taxpayers were left further out of pocket," he said.

"It could deteriorate and shut down up to 10 years earlier because when a super structure is damaged, it can shorten its life span.

"When you start mucking around with the vessels when they go to right it they could warp it, bend it or snap it in half and that would increase the speed of it breaking down."

The wreck is expected to bring a surge of tourists to the region and boost the local economy by up to $5million per year.

Mr Rowe revealed if the ship is left in its current position, work would need to be carried out on the vessel to allow more light inside, possibly delaying when dives could start.

In the final minutes of its scuttling on June 29, the vessel began to roll when it filled with water too quickly and eventually came to rest on its starboard side.

Strict requirements in the scuttling contract outlined the ex-HMAS Tobruk must settle on the seabed with its structural integrity maintained and it must be in an upright position in the correct location, depth and orientation.

Birdon's post-scuttling report will assess the best way forward to maximise dive opportunities.

Mr Rowe said he believes the tourism industry would not be impacted regardless of what decision is made.

"With the Tobruk, the ideal scenario was that it would sit flat," he said.

"Having said that, I can see big advantages and disadvantages."

"The beauty of the Tobruk is that it's a mirror image of itself so what's on the starboard side is also on the port side so you're really losing nothing," he said.

"It's a landing vessel so it opens both sides and that's why everyone fought so hard for it to be scuttled."



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