MARITIME and disposals specialist Birdon Pty Ltd has been awarded the contract to scuttle ex-HMAS Tobruk six months ahead of schedule.
Birdon has been undertaking ship-keeping services on the vessel in the Port of Bundaberg and was the contractor behind the successful preparation and scuttling of ex-HMAS Canberra.
Birdon disposals manager Trent Raines said the company had been keenly following ex-HMAS Tobruk on her journey from decommissioning nearly 18 months ago.
"This is a project we were very keen to be involved in," Mr Raines said.
"It's not just a job but a real passion for us.
"Many of our own personnel are ex-defence and we understand the significance of these projects for the government, ex-servicemen and women and the broader community."
"Birdon also scuttled the ex-HMAS Canberraand is currently deconstructing and recycling ex-HMAS Sydney in Henderson WA.
National Parks' Steven Miles said the project was likely to be delivered six months ahead of schedule, by June next year.
"This means divers can explore this historic ex-navy ship sooner than expected, putting Bundaberg and Hervey Bay on the map as diving destinations," Mr Miles said.
"The project will generate around 54 jobs during the preparation and scuttling phase, and up to 38 direct and indirect jobs as a dive wreck.
"Birdon is passionate about ensuring the community is along for the ride during every step of the journey to transform ex-HMAS Tobruk into an artificial reef."
The news comes before an open weekend, which starts today, as those lucky enough to get tickets where lucky Bundaberg ship lovers will be able to walk the decks of the majestic ship before she's scuttled.
Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson said the region's economy would see long-term benefits from the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk.
Visitors from around the world are expected to visit the dive site.
"In addition to the local employment opportunities the project will create, the end result-a unique dive site in the Wide Bay region - will inject considerable tourism dollars into the region for many years to come," Ms Donaldson said.
"Visitors from Queensland and the rest of the world will flock to the wreck to experience this dive site, and we look forward to welcoming them."