Monday, August 01, 2005

Thousands Watch As Australian Navy Ship Scuttled

The Australian Navy guided missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane (DDG 41)
Former Australian Navy Ship HMAS Brisbane (DDG 41) has been scuttled off Queensland's Sunshine Coast for use as a dive site. Thousands of spectators on land and in boats turned out to watch as a series of explosions sent the ship to the sea floor off Mudjimba in about two minutes. Tourism officials hope the boat will attract 10,000 dive tourists a year, who will add more than $20 million to the state's coffers. The Brisbane's former captain, retired Rear Admiral Geoffrey Loosli, says the ship had a graceful ending. "Both the mounts emitted a flash of flame as if they were firing and after the explosion had occurred, the ship just very gracefully settled down and went to her resting place on the sea bottom," he said. The sinking was four years in the making after extensive negotiations between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie described today's sinking as a bureaucratic nightmare, saying it was one of the hardest deals he has had to broker. The State and Federal Governments held talks for four years before an agreement was reached. But the Premier says the tourism benefits to Queensland are worth the effort. "Are we getting a return? Well, $5 million to do it, $22 million every year for the next 400 or 500 years," he said. "I reckon that's a really good return." Dive companies will be allowed to take tourists down to the ship within weeks.

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