VARS Moves Forward With ex HMAS Canberra Project

Saturday, 22 November 2008: VARS News Update

22 November 2008: VARS News Update

In Brief

Lots of news this month!

  • Work continues with ship preparation with the project still on target for a likely scuttling date sometime in early 2009.
  • Sub-committee work is ramping up as the scuttle date approaches. Work has now started on planning for the Black Tie Ball. Access arrangements are being worked through. Marketing plans are well in development. Fund-raising continues.

Sub-Committee Reports

Site Management - Convenor: Alan Beckhurst
We are awaiting the results of the site survey commissioned by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). As reported last update, a potentially serious issue arose with questions being raised as to the depth of the agreed scuttling site. VARS was able to provide evidence that countered this concern. However, our survey was not able to establish details regarding the substrate. The consultants' report will cover this aspect. It will be important that the substrate does allow the ship to settle effectively - thus the need for a minimum depth of sand or similar.

Work continues to ensure that the final arrangements for site access take into account the needs of all stakeholders whilst enabling the best possible arrangements for diver access both by commercial operators and club and private divers. This work is likely to continue for the next few months. It should be noted that VARS role in this is to ensure maximum consultation and input and to act as a conduit to government. VARS does not formulate policy - all we can do is to try and influence government direction.

Ship Preparation - Convenor: Jason Salter
Work-to-date on the ship is progressing very well. All efforts are being made to produce a result which complies with all safety requirements yet delivers an outstanding dive experience. VARS is very happy with this work so far and believes that the finished product will be the best ship so far in terms of the dive experience.

VARS hopes to be able to arrange an open day closer to the scuttle date so that interested parties can view the finished result before Canberra goes to her final resting place.

We are hopeful that the Port of Melbourne will agree to a 4 metre navigation clearance. This will be an outstanding result meaning that we have the opportunity to retain substantial portions of the mast array. This will also mean that the site will have improved safety with divers able to complete safety stops using the mast.

However, it should be noted that work will be required in order to make the mast useable and set it up as part of the final prepared ship. This work has not been included in the original budget prepared by Birdon. Consequently, it will be up to VARS to find and secure the necessary funds to achieve this. VARS is now evaluating how this might be achieved.

Fund Raising / Membership - Convenor: Warrick McDonald
All VARS members are encouraged to purchase a T-shirt to support the activities of VARS between now and the scuttling date. This T-shirt is available on order either from VARS or via your local dive store (within Victoria).

Other fund-raising opportunities are also being pursued. These include a very generous offer of artworks from Reg Cox. Reg is a well-known Victorian water-colour artist. He has generously offered a number of limited edition prints as well as an original painting (yet to be painted) of Canberra entering the heads for use by VARS in fund-raising efforts. The VARS Committee is currently considering how best to take advantage of this offer.

Marketing / Promotion - Convenor: Bryan McGoldrick
A variety of marketing activities including the production of a 3D interactive video are currently being pursued. Some funding has been secured with more being investigated.

Close contact has now been established with Geelong Otway Tourism and joint activities are being planned.

Scuttling Celebration - Black Tie Ball - Convenor: Mick Jeacle
A Black Tie ball is being planned to celebrate the scuttling. This event will be held sometime in February and promises to be "THE" event of the year in the dive community. Watch this space for information over the next month. Numbers will be limited - so be ready to book your ticket as soon as the final arrangements have been made.

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