Sinking ships for wreck diving sites is the practice of scuttling old ships to produce artificial reefs suitable for wreck diving, to benefit from commercial revenues from recreational diving of the shipwreck, or to produce a diver training site.
To avoid undesirable ecological impact , and to maximise utility, the vessel should be selected and prepared, and the site chosen, with due consideration to the local environment.
To prepare a hulk for sinking as a wreck site, several things must be done to make it safe for the marine environment and divers. To protect the environment, the ship is purged of all oils, hydraulic fluids, and dangerous chemicals such as PCBs. Much of the superstructure may be removed to prevent the hazard of it eventually caving in from corrosion. Similarly, the interior of the ship is gutted of components that corrode quickly, and would be dangerous to divers if they came loose. The ship is thoroughly cleaned, often with the help of volunteers interested in diving. A significant part of the cost of preparing and sinking the ship may be recovered from scrapping the contents of the ship, including valuable materials such as copper wiring. The hulk's suitability as a diving site may be enhanced by cutting openings in its hull and interior bulkheads, and removing doors and hatch covers to allow divers access at reduced risk.
Choice of site
Several factors influence the choice of site for recreational diving purposes, and these should take into consideration the possibly conflicting economic and ecological considerations.
- The wreck should not create a significant hazard to navigation.
- For maximum accessibility and diver safety, a shallow site in protected waters is preferred.
- To reduce cost of access, the site should be near to a suitable harbour or launching site, in a region where existing or planned recreational diving infrastructure is available.
- There may be a conflict of interests between groups which may profit from access to the wreck.
- Sites further offshore make shore dives impracticable or dangerous.
- Deeper water reduces access to less qualified divers, but increases risk for all divers.
- More protected waters reduce risk to all divers and increase the useful lifespan of the wreck as a diving attraction.
- Placement of the wreck will do some ecological damage. An ecological impact assessment should indicate acceptable long term consequences.
- The site will influence the marine organisms that will colonise the wreckage, and the rate at which they will grow. Some may be more desirable at a dive site than others.
- The site will influence the rate of silt deposition in and on the wreckage, which will affect safety and the local ecology.
The preparation phase usually removes a significant amount of weight, so the ship floats higher in the water than normal. This may make it necessary to stabilise the vessel by filling some compartments with water as makeshift ballast tanks to prevent excessive rolling in port or during towing. The ship is towed to the sinking location, usually in waters shallow enough to allow access by a large number of divers, but deep enough to be relatively unaffected by surface weather conditions. The ship is usually scuttled using shaped explosives, in a controlled demolition. The holes may be blown so that the heavier engine room and stern floods first, then the rest of the hull. The aim is to sink the ship in an upright position.
The sinking of ships as recreational dive sites can provide wreck diving opportunities where they previously did not exist, and can provide wrecks which are particularly suitable for penetration by less skilled and experienced divers, when they have been prepared for the purpose by removing potential hazards and contents which would contaminate the site or region. However some divers see them as artificial, less interesting and less challenging, and prefer to explore the relatively unknown or mysterious surroundings of historic and significant wrecks which occurred outside of planned scuttling events, considering them to be more authentic. Scuttling programs may relieve more culturally significant wreckage from overexploitation, particularly incidental damage by less competent divers, but do not remove the threat of illegal intentional damage by removal of artifacts by wreck-robbers, who will target wrecks where there are more likely to be artifacts worth stealing.
List of ships sunk for wreck diving
|2018||HMAS Tobruk (L 50)||Queensland||Australia|
|2017||Fishing Trawler, Gal'Oz||Hertzliya, Israel||Israel|
|2017||USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166)||Cape May, New Jersey||United States|
|2016||General Pereira D´Eça F477||Porto Santo, Madeira||Portugal|
|2015||ARM Uribe (P121)||Rosarito Beach, Baja California||Mexico|
|2015||USS Comstock||Checheng Township, Pingtung||Taiwan|
|2015||HMCS Annapolis||British Columbia||Canada|
|2014||MV Ærøsund||South Fionan Sea||Denmark|
|2014||HTMS Kledkaeo (AKS-861)||Phi Phi Islands||Thailand|
|2013||Tug No. 2||Sliema||Malta|
|2013||T11 Coastal Patrol Ship||Ko Chang||Thailand|
|2013||NRP Almeida Carvalho (A527)||Algarve||Portugal|
|2013||NRP Hermenegildo Capelo (F481)||Algarve||Portugal|
|2012||HTMS Chang, formerly USS Lincoln County||Ko Chang||Thailand|
|2012||NRP Zambeze (P1147)||Algarve||Portugal|
|2012||NRP Oliveira e Carmo (F489)||Algarve||Portugal|
|2012||HTMS Phetra (LCT-764)||Ko Man Nok||Thailand|
|2012||HTMS Mataphon (LCT-761)||Ko Larn||Thailand|
|2012||USCGC Mohawk||Lee County, Florida||United States|
|2011||USS Arthur W. Radford||Cape May, New Jersey||United States|
|2011||HTMS Sattakut (LCI-742)||Koh Tao||Thailand|
|2011||HTMS Prab (LCI-741)||Chumphon||Thailand|
|2011||HMAS Adelaide||Avoca Beach, New South Wales||Australia|
|2011||USS Kittiwake (ASR-13)||West Bay, Grand Cayman||Cayman Islands|
|2009||HMAS Canberra||Barwon Heads, Victoria||Australia|
|2009||USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg||Key West, Florida||United States|
|2007||USS Cruise||Delaware Bay||United States|
|2007||HMNZS Canterbury||Bay of Islands||New Zealand|
|2007||USTS Texas Clipper||South Padre Island, Texas||United States|
|2006||HTMS Kut (L-731)||Pattaya||Thailand|
|2006||USS Oriskany (CV-34)||Florida||United States|
|2006||Xihwu Boeing 737||British Columbia||Canada|
|2005||HMNZS Wellington||Wellington||New Zealand|
|2005||HMAS Brisbane||Mooloolaba, Queensland||Australia|
|2004||Hebat Allah ||Hurghada, Red Sea||Egypt|
|2004||USCGC Spar||Morehead City, North Carolina||United States|
|2004||HMS Scylla||Whitsand Bay, Cornwall||United Kingdom|
|2003||MV Camia 2||Boracay island||Aklan|
|2003||CS Charles L Brown||Sint Eustatius||Leeward Islands|
|2003||USS Leonard F. Mason||Chaikou, Green Island||Taiwan|
|2003||HTMS Khram (L-732)||Ko Phai||Thailand|
|2002||USS Spiegel Grove||Florida||United States|
|2002||HMAS Hobart||Yankalilla Bay, South Australia||Australia|
|2001||HMAS Perth||Albany, Western Australia||Australia|
|2001||HMCS Cape Breton||British Columbia||Canada|
|2000||HMNZS Waikato||Tutukaka||New Zealand|
|2000||USS Knave||Puerto Morales||Mexico|
|2000||USS Fort Marion||HaiTzuKuo, Xiaoliuqiu||Taiwan|
|2000||HMCS Yukon||San Diego, California||United States|
|2000||Stanegarth||Stoney Cove||United Kingdom|
|1999||MV Imperial Eagle||Qawra||Malta|
|1999||HMNZS Tui||Tutukaka Heads||New Zealand|
|1998||MV Adolphus Busch||Looe Key, Florida||United States|
|1998||Um El Faroud||Qrendi||Malta|
|1998||Tug No. 10||Marsaskala||Malta|
|1997||HMCS Saskatchewan||British Columbia||Canada|
|1997||HMAS Swan||Dunsborough, Western Australia||Australia|
|1996||HMCS Columbia||British Columbia||Canada|
|1996||MV Captain Keith Tibbetts (formerly Russian-built frigate 356)||Cayman Brac||Cayman Islands|
|1996||Inganess Bay||British Virgin Islands|
|1995||HMCS Mackenzie||British Columbia||Canada|
|1995||MV Jean Escutia||Puerto Morelos||Mexico|
|1994||INS Sufa||Eilat, Israel||Israel|
|1994||HMAS Derwent||Rottnest Island||Australia|
|1994||SAS Pietermaritzburg, formerly HMS Pelorus||Miller's Point, Western Cape||South Africa|
|1994||HMCS Saguenay||Nova Scotia||Canada|
|1992||HMCS Chaudière||British Columbia||Canada|
|1992||USS Indra||North Carolina||United States|
|1991||USS Algol||New Jersey||United States|
|1991–2001||"Wreck Alley" – Marie L, Pat and Beata||British Virgin Islands|
|1991||MV G.B. Church||British Columbia||Canada|
|1990||USCG Hollyhock||Florida||United States|
|1990||USS Chippewa||Destin, Florida||United States|
|1990||USS Yancey||Morehead City, North Carolina||United States|
|1989||YO-257||Oahu, Hawaii||United States|
|1989||USS Blenny||Ocean City, Maryland||United States|
|1989||USS Muliphen||Port St. Lucie, Florida||United States|
|1988||USS Aeolus||North Carolina||United States|
|1988||USS Rankin||Stuart, Florida||United States|
|1988||USCGC Unimak||Virginia||United States|
|1988||USS Vermilion||Myrtle Beach, South Carolina||United States|
|1987–2000||Wreck Alley||San Diego, California||United States|
|1987||USCGC Bibb||Florida||United States|
|1987||USCGC Duane||Florida||United States|
|1987||Rainbow Warrior||Matauri Bay||New Zealand|
|1987||USS Strength||Panama City, Florida||United States|
|1987||USS Accokeek||Gulf of Mexico||United States|
|1983||USS Curb||Key West, Florida||United States|
|1982||MS Logna||Grand Bahama Island||Bahamas|
|1982||USS Scrimmage||Waianae, Hawaii||United States|
|1980||USS Mindanao||Daytona Beach, Florida||United States|
|1980||USS Harlequin||Isla Mujeres||Mexico|
|1980||Oro Verde||Cayman Islands|
|1978||USS Dionysus||North Carolina||United States|
|1975||USS Mona Island||Wachapreague, Virginia||United States|
|1974||SS Theodore Parker||North Carolina||United States|
|1972||USS Fred T. Berry||Key West, Florida||United States|
|1970||Mohawk||Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina||United States|
|1970||Glen Strathallen||Plymouth Sound||United Kingdom|
|1968||USS Mizpah||Palm Beach, Florida||United States|
|1944||Jun'yō Maru||Samalona Island, South Sulawesi||Indonesia|
|1942/1984||ITS Scirè||Haifa, Israel||Israel|
- Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia – Canadian non-profit to create artificial reefs for habitat enhancement and recreation
- Rigs-to-Reefs – Program for converting decommissioned offshore oil and petroleum rigs into artificial reefs
- Archaeology of shipwrecks – Study of human activity through the analysis of shipwreck artifacts
- Diver training – Processes by which people develop the skills and knowledge to dive safely underwater
- Environmental impact of recreational diving – Effects of scuba diving on the underwater environment
- Lists of shipwrecks – Index to Wikipedia's lists of shipwrecks
- List of wreck diving sites – List of shipwreck sites which are popular amongst scuba divers for wreck diving.
- Scuba diving tourism – Industry based on recreational diver travel
- Wreck Alley – Recreational dive area, also known as "Sunken Harbor", with several wrecks sunk as artificial reefs
- Wreck diving – Recreational diving on wrecks
- Edney, Joanne (November 2006). "Impacts of Recreational Scuba Diving on Shipwrecks in Australia and the Pacific - A Review". Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Albury NSW, Australia: Heritage Futures International. 5 (1/2 Combined). ISSN 1449-7336.
- "Cordeca". www.portugaldive.com. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
- "NRP General Pereira d'Eca F477". www.shipspotting.com. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
- "HMCS Annapolis sunk to make artificial reef". CBC News. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
- "Vandenberg sinking this morning". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-28.[dead link]
- "Diving the wrecks off Malta and Gozo's Coastline". Paradise Diving Malta. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "ARSBC". Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "Hebat Allah". Red Sea Wreck Project. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- "Charlie Brown Artificial Reef". Golden Rock Dive Center. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "5 Star PADI IDC Centre, Kenya, Zanzibar". Buccaneer Diving. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "The ''Spiegel Grove'' is believed to be the largest ever wreck deliberately sunk as a diving site". Fla-keys.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "HMAS Perth (II) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "MV Imperial Eagle & Kristu l-Bahhar". Subway Dive Centre. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "Top wrecks of Malta & Gozo". John Liddiard. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "HMAS Swan (III) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "BVI Dive Site: Wreck of the Inganess Bay". Bvidiving.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- "Cooper Island". Dive BVI. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
- Williams, Chris; Bowen, Linda (2008). "Wrecks of the Duane and Bibb" (PDF). Advanced Diver Magazine Ezine (1, reprinted from ADM issue 4): 62–72. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- The Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior
- "The Cayman Islands Shipwreck Expo Directory Capt. Dan Berg's Guide to Shipwrecks information". Aquaexplorers.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.