Monday, 13 November 2000 00:00

The Sinking of the Breaksea Spit Light Ships

On the weekend of the 23-24th September 2000, 2 new FAD's were placed amongst the already huge Cochrane Artificial Reef. The Artificial Reef site is located about 2 1/2 - 3 nautical miles off Barolin Point, Innes Park and 2 1/2 - 3 nautical miles off Elliott Heads.

The 2 new editions to the reef were 2 identical 16 year old Light Ships, each weighing 140 tonnes and are 24 metres long and 8 metres wide. They are called the "Breaksea Spit Light Ships" and marked the channel into the mouth of the Burnett river. When new, each lightship cost 1.2 million dollars! They used an acetylene beacon powered by 90 "G" size cylinders each, the light from which could be seen for about 17 nautical miles.  Now, they are sitting in around 17 metres of water, doing what they were sunk to do, attract fish!

A bit about the history of the Cochrane Artificial Reef....


The Bundaberg & District Artificial Reef Incorporated (BADARAI) was created in October 1987. The Artificial Reef Site itself is 400m x 800m with the 800m boundary running parallel to north-northeast. To date, it is the only approved artificial reef in a marine park in Australia. The Artificial Reef site is located about 21/2 - 3 nautical miles off Barolin Point, Innes Park and 21/2 - 3 nautical miles off Elliott Heads. We are governed by and prior to "dumping" we must gain approvals from The Dept of Environment, Qld Transport (Marine Division) and the Environmental Protection Group, Canberra just to name a few. A condition of transporting materials to the artificial reef, is that a Class 5 skipper using a surveyed vessel is to be used to tow the materials.

4th October 1992 the first deployment to the artificial reef site was a 50m long, 350 tonne gravel dredge "Ceratodus II" which was generously donated by Smiths Premix. The preparation of "Ceratodus II" took many months of working bees with excited members working to full capacity. The dredge was towed to the site and was sunk using explosives at its present resting place as the "main attraction".

14th & 15th November 1992 a quantity of concrete pipes and steel modules was sunk.

17th December 1994 saw more steel pipe pyramids and steel modules placed.

12th October 1996 and the association took on a massive venture of towing and sinking 2 Mohawk aircraft. The aircraft were floated to the site. This action was very professionally and accurately carried out. and included the road transportation from the Bundaberg Airport to Riverview boat ramp the previous day. This was the culmination of months of hard work which saw members give many hours to strip these aircraft to comply with regulations. The aircraft were purchased from association funds.

28th June 1997 and another huge exercise whereby a 15 seater Kingair plane (we purchased) and a 9 tonne structure comprising of steel tanks (9m x 5m x 3m) were hoisted by Stewarts Cranes over the rock walls at Port Bundaberg and both were towed down the coast to the reef area.

February 1998 Over a five day period, Mr Eddie Jebreen, a marine biologist with the DPI, deployed several hundred tonnes of materials mainly in the southern section of the reef. Main materials used were concrete modules (each .6tonne), steel pipe modules, steel prisms and concrete block modules. Mr Jebreen has been conducting surveys on this area for experimental purposes on artificial reefs.

16th July 1998 Two more steel structures were towed from Riverview. The Barolin water tank which was enhanced with modules to give it profile and a structure of discarded pontoons also with the additions of steel prisms and other modules were successfully deployed.

27th May 1999 a landing barge approximately 16m long and 35 tonne complete with steel structures to add profiles was towed on its last journey. During the year we built a pontoon platform to enable us to perform small deployments. Another duty
members perform is dive monitoring 4 times yearly for species count and habitat report for various government departments.

17th Oct and 31st Dec 1999 our members sank 3500 concrete house blocks to make "bombies" and a dive trail between objects. We have thousands more to place.

AIMS. The aim of our organisation is to assist nature to improve fish stocks, marine biodiversity and replace reef loss as well as create a diverse fish habitat which fishermen and scuba divers can enjoy. Along the way we want our members to enjoy being a part of this challenging project for our community and we are always seeking enthusiastic people to share their ideas to aim for our goal.