The soon-to-be-Incredible Sunken Hulks
By Sean Percy
Four of Powell River’s iconic cement ships could soon be at the bottom of the sea, and local scuba divers couldn’t be more excited.
They’re at the end of their useful life as breakwaters, but are destined to be attractions for sea life and underwater explorers.
At a Chamber of Commerce meeting last month, Catalyst mill manager Fred Chinn said the reconfigured mill no longer needs as many of the concrete ships as it used to. Four ships are surplus, he said. And he hopes plans to work in cooperation with the Artificial Reef Society of BC and local divers will result in a world-class scuba diving attraction.
If the plans come together, Powell River would become one of just a handful of places where multiple ships can be viewed on a single dive.
“This will put us in the same league as Scapa Flow or Truk Lagoon,” says Gary Lambeth of Salish Sea Dive. Those are spots where warships were sunk and now serve as major dive attractions. But those locations are challenging for most divers. Scapa Flow is a highly technical dive site off Scotland, and Truk Lagoon is in Micronesia.
The site selected for the sinking is about halfway between the mill and Willingdon Beach, (as seen in the image, an artist’s depiction of where the ships would lie) with the deepest parts of the ship in about 25 metres of water.
The sites selected for the sinking are virtually barren sand seafloor except where an occasional rock provides refuge. When the ships go down, they’re expected to attract hundreds of species of marine life.