Even with all the ducks in a row, some of the best laid plans don’t come to fruition.
HMAS Darwin will have to find a new home, after the state government passed on the federal government’s offer to sink the ex-Navy vessel in Skeleton Bay, on the East Coast.
Since February, HMAS Darwin has been on the agenda of the state government and people in the region, led by the St Helens Chamber of Commerce.
HMAS Darwin is the second ship the state has tried to have sunk as a dive wreck, with a failed bid in 2016 for HMAS Tobruk.
There have been many arguments for and against HMAS Darwin, with environmental concerns raised regarding the ongoing maintenance not covered by dive permits.
A lobby group, the No Dive Wreck for Bay of Fires held protests against the ship, raising issues with dumping a ship into the East Coast’s “pristine environment”.
On the other hand, the Darwin’s proposed scuttling was welcomed by the St Helens Chamber of Commerce, along with the Break O’Day Council, who lauded the ship’s tourism potential for the region.
Despite environmental concerns being continually raised in relation to HMAS Darwin, it is interesting to note that those issues were not the main reason the state government passed on the wreck.
At the end of the day, the decision came down to cost. Treasurer Peter Gutwein said it would cost in excess of $12 million to prepare and establish the Darwin as a dive wreck in Tasmania.
In addition there would be about $600,000 per year for maintenance and monitoring costs not covered by
While the East Coast is becoming a hot bed of tourist activity, it is unlikely the number of tourists visiting the dive wreck would have covered that cost.
The Commonwealth should, like has for other states, provide a decommissioned ship as a dive wreck at its cost.
HMAS Darwin is a good example of wants versus needs.
It would have been a nice tourism feather in the cap of the East Coast but it is not the only gem the region has to offer.