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June 9, 2011
SINCE HMAS Adelaide
II's scuttling on April 13,
professional and recrea-
tional divers from across
the country and abroad have
flocked to the NSW Central Coast
to visit the ship at her final resting
place; located about 1.4km south of
the Skillion at Terrigal and 1.8km
off Avoca Beach in 32m of water.
The artificial reef dive site was
officially opened to the public on
May 7 and more than 150 diving
permits were issued for that first
The Secretary of the
Central Coast Artificial Reef
Project, Sue Dengate, said she
was pleasantly surprised by
how quickly Adelaide II had
attracted marine life.
"We didn't expect the ship
to attract life so soon after her
scuttling. The professors from
the University of Newcastle
are very excited about it," Ms
"Divers saw a school of about
200 yellowtail spotted fish and one
cuttlefish swimming over the for-
ward deck. Small gobies and leather-
jacket fish have taken up residencies
in the top of her mast and even an
inquisitive baby humpback whale
was spotted swimming around her."
Central Coast Tourism estimates
the dive site will attract 5000 divers
a year, boosting the local economy
by about $4.5 million annually.
During the next four years, permit
sales are expected to raise about
$181,000, which will be used to
manage and maintain the artificial
The CEO of Central Coast
Tourism, Oliver Philpot, said global
warming, climate change and pol-
lution were negatively affecting
Australia's natural reefs.
"The environmental condition of
natural reefs is a growing concern.
Artificial reefs, however, provide
the best of both worlds. An artificial
site involves literally transforming a
man-made object into a flourishing
and dynamic ecosystem," Mr Philpot
"Artificial reefs also increase div-
er-related expenditure coming into
the region while reducing visitation
and thus damage to neighbouring
Commissioned in 1980, Adelaide
II's naval career spanned 28 years.
The Adelaide-class FFG was one of
the first RAN warships to deploy to
the Gulf in 1990 and she redeployed
there in 2002 and 2004 as part of
Operations Catalyst and Slipper.
In 1999 and 2006, Adelaide II
also supported operations in East
Timor, but she is renowned for her
search and rescue of lone yachtsmen
Thierry Dubois and Tony Bullimore
from the Southern Ocean in 1997.
The ship was decommissioned on
January 19, 2008.
Adelaide II's 24th and last CO,
CAPT Robert Slaven, said the ship
had joined the distinguished list of
ships he had served on that now
resided on the ocean floor or had
met their fate in a breakers yard.
"I miss my time on board
Adelaide II, but most of all I miss
serving at sea with her sailors. If I
ever get homesick for my old 'cap-
tain's chair', at least I know where to
find it," CAPT Slaven said.
"One day I will visit her, but
Adelaide II was just a ship -- her soul
lives on in those who served in her."
CPO Peter Wood was the ship's
final Buffer and he served
on board for about six years
across three separate postings.
"I watched her go down
with other former crew mem-
bers from the surf club at
Avoca Beach. It was sad to
watch, but thankfully she has
a new life as a dive site," CPO
He said his most vivid
memory of Adelaide II was during
the weeks leading up to her decom-
"You could see the old girl dying
as personnel posted off and equip-
ment was removed. The last day
she ran was the day we sailed her to
Avoca Beach to show her to Central
Coast Artificial Reef Project and
Central Coast Tourism staff.
"Knowing she would never sail
again under her own steam was
upsetting, but a ship is only as good
as the crew who served in her.
"Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll get to
commission HMAS Adelaide III as
Buffer in the near future."
Adelaide settles into new home
HMAS Adelaide II's Navy career may have ended in 2008 but
she continues to embody her 'United for the Common Good'
motto by serving as the new home for Avoca Beach's marine
life. CPL Melanie Schinkel reports.
"One day I will visit her, but
Adelaide II was just a ship
-- her soul lives on in those
who served in her."
-- CAPT Robert Slaven,
former CO HMAS Adelaide II
STILL SERVING: (Above and top left) Thirty-two metres below the
surface, a diver surveys the site of where HMAS Adelaide II's ghostly
remains lie at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast.
Photos: Rob Westerdyk
ANYONE wishing to dive
or snorkel at the HMAS
Adelaide II artificial reef site
needs to purchase a permit.
Divers can purchase com-
plete dive packages through
commercial dive operators, or
make their own booking for a
club or private mooring through
Central Coast Tourism.
The diving costs vary. If you
have your own boat and diving
gear, the minimum cost is $18
a diver plus a $60 mooring fee.
Commercial dive companies
charge about $80 if you supply
your own gear or $140 if you
hire their equipment.
Visit the official website at www.
hmasadelaide.com for further
information or to make a booking
Ready to dive?
HER SOUL LIVES ON: (Above) HMAS
Adelaide II on duty in Cambodia during
2007 and (right) the decommissioned ship is
scuttled off the NSW Central Coast.
Photos: ABIS Justin Brown and ABIS Hayley Clarke
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