A local group has received the final approvals it needs to sink the HMCS Annapolis into the depths of Howe Sound and turn it into an artificial reef for marine life.
The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) announced today that it is proceeding with plans to tow the 110-metre helicopter carrying destroyer from Port Graves to Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park on Gambier Island – just across Howe Sound from Lions Bay. The vessel will be anchored at the site on Tuesday, January 13 and sunk on the morning of Saturday, January 17.
The plan to sink a large warship has not been without controversy from locals who are concerned about the potential environment impact.
“The project is now moving rapidly into its final phase of readiness,” said Howie Robins, President of the ARSBC, in a statement. “We successfully navigated through all the obstacles and now have all the required federal and provincial permits in place and the legal challenges dismissed in federal court”.
The group says the ship has been meticulously cleaned of hazardous and pollutant materials by more than a thousand volunteers since 2008 and that it follows federal regulations and standards.
About 250 tons of material that could be hazardous have been removed and recycled – only the steel hull and aluminum superstructure will remain when it sits 30-metres at the bottom of Halkett Bay.
It is expected the artificial reef will help restore rockfish and lingcod species in Howe Sound. “The ship will provide dark recessed areas and act as a pinnacle with cave-like setting suitable for rockfish species, notably yellow-eye, tiger and quillback,” said Dr. Jeff Marliave, Vice-President of Marine Sciences of the Vancouver Aquarium.
The ARSBC says Annapolis has 40 per cent more external habitat surface space than her previously sunk sister ships because of external features that include a helicopter flight deck and hangar and the exterior bridge.
HMCS Annapolis was first commissioned in 1964 in Halifax and served both the Maritime Forces Atlantic and Maritime Forces Pacific fleet until it was decommissioned in 1996. The vessel was purchased from the federal government in 2008 with the intent of converting it into the largest artificial reef near Metro Vancouver, but economic challenges from the 2008 recession delayed the project.
This is the ARSBC’s largest and most complex artificial reef project to date. In the past, it has sunk five other large former naval vessels, a coastal freighter that participated in the D-Day landings and a Boeing 737 aircraft.
Feature Image: DeepDiverBC via Scubaboard