The botched sinking of ex-HMAS Tobruk by a government contractor, which left the ship on its side and needing modifications to make it safer, will not be fixed after the risks of damaging it are deemed too high.
It was promised to be a world-class dive spot and major tourist attraction between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, with the cost estimated about $10 million.
But the ship, which was supposed to sink upright, tipped on its side when was scuttled in late June.
Instead of fixing it, the State Government has decided to spend $1 million to promote it.
The dive site has been branded as a “devastating failure” by the State Opposition.
Ex-HMAS Tobruk will remain on her side, with the risk to fix it deemed too high. (Supplied: Queensland Government)
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said leaving the ship uncorrected would mean tourists could dive on the wreck sooner.
The decision comes after a independent report by a dive researcher was provided by the Government.
“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,” he said.
“Preparation work on the Tobruk is expected to take 40 working days, weather dependent. The site will then open to divers soon after.”
Beginner-level divers will be able to access features such as the propeller without any changes to the ship’s current position, according to the report.
Contractor Birdon was awarded the contract to scuttle the HMAS Tobruk in September 2017.
The Government did not provide the total cost to right the wreck, or if Birdon 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”.
Ex-HMAS Tobruk was decommissioned in 2015 after 35 years service, mainly as an Army transport vessel.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leanne Enoch signals the start of the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk. (ABC Wide Bay: Johanna Marie)
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said there was “no point playing a blame game”.
Birdon is an engineering firm which specialise in military and marine industries, had scuttled the ex-HMAS Canberra at Geelong, Victoria, and worked on the deconstruction and recycling of the ex-HMAS Sydney.
The company has been contacted for comment.
At the time it was announced, disposals manager Trent Raines said the company was excited to lead the project.
“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-service men and women and the broader community,” he said.