A 120-year-old tall ship Defender owned by Launceston businessman Les Dick has sunk while moored in Northern Queensland.
The 35-metre historic tall ship sank on Monday night at its wharf mooring on Ross Creek in Townsville.
Owner of the ship and LD Marine shipping operator Les Dick said he believed the boat had been vandalised. Mr Dick said he would soon fly to Queensland.
‘‘It was checked yesterday and it all appeared to be fine, there was no water in the boat and [on Tuesday] morning it had sunk during the night,’’ Mr Dick said.
‘‘The power had been disconnected off the boat, all the plugs had been pulled out.’’
‘‘We can’t say for sure that [it has been vandalised], until it’s refloated we won’t be able to make any assertions as to what really happened, that’s only what I’m being told.’’
Maritime Safety Queensland had cordoned off the site.
Defender, built in 1895, was a historically significant tall ship, having broken the record for fastest crossing of the Bass Strait for a ship of its class in 1923.
It was bought by Mr Dick in 1982 and restored to its former glory after years of disrepair.
Mr Dick said he was ‘‘absolutely gutted’’ when he heard the news on Monday.
‘‘She’s the last one of the Bass Strait ketches,’’ Mr Dick said.
‘‘She is of immense historical value to Australia and indeed Tasmania.
It’s just heart-wrenching to think of the thing that’s happened to it.’’
Mr Dick said he had a team of people who were looking after the boat in Townsville, and they were helping him form a plan to save the boat.
‘‘My hope is that the vessel can be salvaged, or will be salvaged, and brought back to Tasmania but how we make that happen I’m just unsure at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re seeing what we can do, what gear we can get and what our chances of success would be.’’