ex HMAS Canberra Project Progress

Wednesday, 16 January 2008: VARS News Update

16 January 2008: VARS News Update

In Brief

The ex HMAS Canberra project continues to move forward. The recent federal election slowed down the finalisation of the Deed of Gift and formal letting of the contract for preparation and scuttling. These two items are now firmly back on the agendas of the relevant government departments and should be finalised soon.

The VARS committee remains very active and is maintaining close liaison with all relevant parties. Work is continuing on key elements such as ship preparation plans, site management plans and marketing strategy. It should be noted that previous dive wreck projects around Australia have typically taken 5 years from inception to final sinking. We are now 2 years into the ex HMAS Canberra project and look like beating these previous timelines quite substantially.

Formalisation of Deed Document

A major milestone in this project is the completion of the Deed of Gift. This is the agreement between the State and Commonwealth Governments that allows the formal handing over of the Canberra. Until this document is signed, no actual work can commence in moving or preparing the ship.

VARS understands that this document is now in the final stages of preparation. Agreements have been reached regarding issues such as funding and it is now a case of "putting the ink to paper". Current indications are that this will be completed by end January.

Tender Process

The tender process has now been completed. VARS understands that a successful tenderer has been selected. However, the formal letting of the contract cannot occur until the Deed of Gift has been signed. We are maintaining close contact with relevant parties so that we are able to move quickly once the contracts are finalised.

Sub-Committee Reports

Site Management - Convenor: Alan Beckhurst
This has been the most active of the sub-committees in the past month or so. The main task is to prepare a submission to Government on appropriate site management including access provisions and ongoing monitoring and management.

A discussion paper has been circulated to relevant parties in the commercial and private dive community. Comments and discussion points have been received and the submission paper to Government is close to completion. The sub-committee is working hard to ensure that access fees and rights are determined in such a fashion as to allow fair and equitable access whilst recognising that ongoing management costs must be recovered and that commercial viability of the site is ensured.

Ship Preparation - Convenor: Jason Salter
Work has started on preparation of a plan for diving the wreck. However, the bulk of this work will occur once the tenderer has been formally announced. At this stage the key tasks will be to coordinate with the successful tenderer to ensure that ship is correctly prepared to maximise diving enjoyment and safety.

Fund Raising / Membership - Convenor: Warrick McDonald
This committee has been active in finding ways to expand VARS membership and secure funds to enable VARS to continue to operate. A number of people have signed up as possible volunteers to assist with the work of the various sub-committees. The committee is grateful for this display of interest and support. Letters will be forwarded to the various volunteers to thank them and (where applicable) invite them to join VARS. As sub-committees become more active, those volunteers will be further contacted and invited to assist in particular ways.

Marketing / Promotion - Convenor: Bryan McGoldrick
Initial work has commenced on prepare of a marketing plan to successfully market the Canberra as the centrepiece of Victoria - World Class Temperate Water Dive Destination. At this stage the key issue is to seek appropriate funding to allow a marketing drive. It is envisaged that the majority of this drive will be in the first year or so. It will be designed to attract interstate and overseas divers and hence expand our overall diver base.

Site Location

VARS continues to lobby Government to ensure that the vessel will be scuttled in the most appropriate location to maximise its value as the centrepiece of Victoria - World Class Temperate Water Dive Destination and to ensure access to a broad range of divers.

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