The sinking of ex-HMAS Tobruk off the coast of Bundaberg on Friday 29/06/18.
The sinking of ex-HMAS Tobruk off the coast of Bundaberg on Friday 29/06/18. Craig Warhurst

We're on Tobruk's side... but so is she

THE State Governmenttoday labelled the scuttling of ex-HMAS Tobruk as "successful" despite the fact she came to rest on her starboard side off the coast of Bundaberg.

A spokeswoman for the environment department confirmed what onlookers had suspected as she turned while being sunk.

"The ship was flooded with water and submerged in just over 30 minutes, settling on the bottom of the ocean at a depth of approximately 28 metres," she said.

"Divers have inspected the site once it was safe to do so and advised that the ship has settled on her starboard side, as was apparent as it began to roll in the final stages."

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The spokeswoman said the focus would now be on making sure the dive site was safe.

"While this was not the planned outcome, it is always a possibility in a scuttling process," she said.

"The next step for the project is to assess the site to ensure that it is safe for divers, and the Department of Environment and Science will discuss options with contractors."

The spokeswoman said it was too early to speculate if the unintended flip would affect the anticipated dive height of between 18 and 25 metres.

About 100 boats surrounded the Tobruk today morning while helicopters buzzed overhead.

With the help of several tugs, she was flooded with water via pneumatic valves and once filled, the vessel took about three minutes to rest on the sea floor.

Ex-HMAS Tobruk project manager Steve Hoseck said he would be diving down to the ship to inspect her for safety.

"I'm hoping to dive it on Sunday to do some of the inspection dives," he said.

"Some things can come loose when it goes down... we want to make sure it's absolutely safe for the public."

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the ex-navy ship had undergone extensive preparations to become a world-class dive site for the past eight months.

"This unique dive site will appeal to divers of all levels and ability," she said.

"Diver access holes have been cut around the ship to provide access and lighting into the depths of the historic ex-navy ship."

Ms Enoch said the ship provided service throughout the last 34 years and would continue to serve as a unique tourist attraction from deep beneath Queensland's warm waters.

"It is expected that divers will be able to dive the site within approximately one month, depending on safety inspections and mooring installations," she said.

Speaking from the sinking, Ms Enoch said the regions would reap dividends.

"We know these kinds of experiences are worth millions of dollars to regional tourism and to business," she said.

The fight to sink ex-HMAS Tobruk in Bundaberg waters was tough, but the region won out in the end.

Originally described as a "whisper" in Federal MP Keith Pitt's ear in 2012, Mr Pitt spoke about the need to bring the ship to Bundy in his 2013 maiden speech.

A joint effort from the region's politicians and a campaign from the NewsMail followed.

In December 2016, it was revealed that Bundaberg had won the ship.

As local woman Christine Binns commented on the sinking... "Farewell, RIP HMAS-Tobruk, you served well".



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