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Alan K | all galleries >> Galleries >> Hanging Out In My PAD 2011 > 20110210_6277 Uncertain Future (Thu 10 Feb)
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10-FEB-2011 AKMC

20110210_6277 Uncertain Future (Thu 10 Feb)

Johnston's Bay, Pyrmont

A number of pictures of the former HMAS Adelaide can be found in my Adieu Adelaide gallery, along with a description of the ship herself. Originally intended to be scuttled off the Central Coast of NSW in early 2010 as a dive wreck and artificial reef, she's still sitting there. That's a result of a local action group (which showed no interest in the issue during the 11 years that it was in the planning phase, when they thought that it was going to be scuttled off a beach to the north of them) taking legal action on the grounds that... well, they don't want it there, is what it seems to boil down to.

I have no opinion for or against the scuttling; I simply don't have the technical knowledge to know whether it's on balance a good or bad thing. What I do have an opinion about, though, is NIMBY groups who come in at the last minute, and who also don't have the technical knowledge, but hey, what they don't know, they make up. And it's invariably done with all the restraint of Chicken Little. It's beginning to hack me off because it debases the coinage of people who do have genuine and well founded concerns about local issues.

Their original court action was based on the fact that hey, maybe despite a several month long clean-up, there might, possibly, be toxic materials on board. They don't know, mind you, but it's possible, perhaps. (Notwithstanding that details of warship design are done in excruciating detail, since the last thing a damage control party needs to encounter in the heat of battle is a previously unexpected bank of toxic material. In the end, the action group had to withdraw some of the more outlandish claims.) They lost that action in March last year. They then appealed that decision, and lost again in September, though (in the course of finding that the artificial reef will be of environmental as well as economic benefit) the Tribunal concerned imposed some extra cleanup conditions.

Their latest cry has been the result of the Adelaide's sister ship, the former HMAS Canberra which had been scuttled off the Victorian coast, beginning to break up as ships under water are wont to do to a greater or lesser extent. Parks Victoria issued a warning that part of a hangar was separating from the superstructure and "the frames and plating on the port side are moving 30mm vertically and 150mm horizontally which may pose a hazard to divers". The action group has extrapolated wildly from this claiming that the Canberra had tipped from an original 3 degrees to 22 degrees. ''When it gets to 27 or 30 degrees, it will likely tip over and not be able to be used as a diving wreck', they claim. And this neatly sums up my problem with that group, and ones like them. First, divers often explore upturned ships. It's craziness in my view, but they do it. Second, who says that Canberra is going to tip any further? Yes, it may. Or it may have hit a hard bottom and has gone as far as it'll go. Or it may get more marine growth on the upper side which weighs it so that it tips back. I don't know. But neither do they (and they certainly don't know that Adelaide will go exactly as the Canberra did, sisters or not), yet that doesn't stop them from claiming whatever facts-not-in-evidence which will support their own barrow push.

What happens now? The contractors are doing a survey of the ship to see how long the extra work will take. However if it isn't done soon, this summer's weather window will be missed as well and she may well still be there until the end of this year under that increasingly tattered "Off to the Central Coast" banner.

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