The sinking of military ships – both in peacetime and in war creates amyriad of problems. In addition to the strategic loss, they often posesignificant environmental threats. The sinking of the Russiansubmarine, Kursk, and concern over its nuclear reactor is a recentexample of this. But as Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentatorSuzanne Elston has discovered, a new project plans to deliberately sinka Canadian naval vessel in Lake Ontario to help improve the marineenvironment:
The sinking of military ships – both in peacetime and in war – creates a myriad of
problems. In addition to the strategic loss, they often pose significant environmental
threats. The sinking of the Russian submarine, Kursk, and concern over its nuclear
reactor is a recent example of this. But as Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator
Suzanne Elston has discovered, a new project plans to deliberately sink a Canadian naval
vessel in the Lake Ontario to help improve the marine environment.
The project gives a whole new meaning to the old phrase, ‘turning
swords into ploughshares.” A group of scuba divers wants to sink an
old naval vessel and turn it into a multi-purpose artificial reef.
The decommissioned naval destroyer Nipigon will provide a habitat for
fish and aquatic vegetation, a hotspot for anglers and an interesting
site for scuba divers. The vessel will also become an underwater
classroom for marine archeology and environmental studies students,
as well as a research site for biologists and ecologists. The Nipigon
will even provide an interesting underwater location for movie and
What’s nice about the plan is that the wreck site will be free and
open to everyone. And although the Nipigon is A Canadian ship, going
down in Canadian waters, the project is gaining international
attention. In fact, much of the funding comes from Project AWARE – a
California based scuba association dedicated to preserving the
It may seem ironic that this project falls so closely on the heels of
the Kursk sinking. So much international attention has been focused
on the possibility of raising the radioactive ship and her dead crew.
But while The Nipigon will be the first Canadian warship to be
deliberately sunk in the Great Lakes, there have already been several
successful sinkings off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Last year
the Canadian warship Yukon was decommissioned and bought by a San
Diego based group. It was sunk off the coast of California in June.
Right now, the only hold-up to the Nipigon project is red tape. Once
the ship is decommissioned and any environmental hazards such as fuel
oil are removed, it can then be sold and shipped up the St. Lawrence
to Lake Ontario. Then the fun part begins. A demolition expert will
carefully set charges above and below the waterline and then, boom.
Down she goes. So if all goes well, this newest Great Lakes
attraction will be open about this time next year. Anyone for a swim?