ONE-TIME foes have united in a common cause - to save one of the last Bass Strait ketches, the Defender.
Former owner Les Dick sold the vessel to Captain Brett Devine for $1 on February 27, and Captain Devine has now begun a campaign to garner government and business support to fund its salvage and return to Tasmania, where it could potentially operate as a training ship for at-risk youth.
The 121-year-old ship, which had fallen into disrepair over seven years, sank in what were understood to be suspicious circumstances in Townsville's Ross Creek in the first week of January.
Who will carry out and pay for the salvage operation is still to be determined, and a Queensland government spokeswoman said on Friday that no more could be said as legal action was under way.
While upset and hesitant to talk because of his dealings with the Queensland government, Mr Dick, of LD Shipping, said he understood Captain Devine would be working with the Adelaide Nautical College to see the vessel restored.
"I'd still like to see it restored," Mr Dick said. "That's why I did sell it, so it will be restored - it's the best opportunity for a not-for-profit group to do it.
"Hopefully the Queensland government will give them enough support to do that."
Captain Devine, who is a volunteer member of the college, has been in Tasmania for the past week meeting federal and state government bodies, and potential business and private backers to support the salvage.
He said the Queensland government had sought a $420,000 bond from him, as the new owner, until he could salvage the vessel.
This was money, he said, that would be needed for actually getting it out of the water, repaired and sailing it to Tasmania.
"All I need is someone from the government here and other groups, to say this is worth saving and showing their support," Captain Devine said.
He said he needed federal or state bodies to step in and prevent the Queensland authorities from salvaging and then dumping the vessel.
Captain Devine returns to Sydney on Saturday to meet other potential supporters and will then fly to Townsville to meet the various Queensland bodies to try to come to some arrangement next week.