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Shipwreck dive site 12 miles off North Rock

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The rusting hulk of the Niobe Corinthian is about to be sunk as an artificial reef 12 miles off- shore west of North Rock Beacon. The derelict casino ship has been an eyesore in St David's for years but is now going through the final stages of preparation and could be sent to a watery grave as soon as October.

Bermuda's government took ownership of the ship back in 2014 after the former owners were arrested for bypassing Bermuda's gaming laws. The Department of Marine and Ports (Receivers of Wrecks) has since enlisted the Bermuda Intact Wreck Initiative to help make the ship safe and clean for divers.The Department of Environmental Services will also come on board to assess the vessel to ensure there is no more asbestos material left inside.

Neil Stempel of the Bermuda Intact Wreck Initiative (BIWI) said while the preparation of the ship had been a momentous task, the end is near.

“The vessel looks completely different now. It had the bar on the top deck that was all glassed in and the stacks were still in place so we craned a bobcat on board to knock the structures down. In the last two or three weeks of being out there, it feels like you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“If you had seen the vessel when we first took it over in February 2014 there were people squatting on board.

“It was just disgusting — you can't imagine how bad it was. People were breaking in, firing off fire extinguishers and breaking the gaming machines up. Now there is nothing on board, it is an empty shell.

“The cleaning of the engine room is the big-ticket item left to do, which is at the mercy of Marine and Ports and the Hazard Waste Disposal team and it depends when they have the manpower available.

“The clean-up might be a couple of weeks more work and we have a welder coming to take out some railings and hatches for diver safety. The Department of Environmental Services have done inspections and they have to sign off on all the clean-up work.”

So far, BIWI has spent $331,760 on its part of the clean-up and expects to spend another $50,000 or $60,000 to complete it. The funds have been generated by the Stempel Foundation in the US, which gives funding to the National Museum of Bermuda.

The museum holds and then releases the funds back to the project. The Marine Resources Board has signed off on the location near North Rock, although a final decision has to be made on the size of the protected fishing zone.

The wreck will sit inside the reef platform which, it is hoped, will protect it from being broken up in adverse weather conditions. Mr Stempel added: “It's close to Snapper Rocks, which is to the west of North Rock, but it is inside the breaker line in a 70-foot sand hole so the vessel is deep enough.

“From the keel to the point we have cut it is 49 feet in height, so in 70ft of water the top will be about 20ft below the waves at low tide, which makes it dive-friendly.

“It won't be sloppy because it is on the inside of the reef platform and it won't get the big ocean rollers which crush the vessels over time.”

Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Niobe Corinthian (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 05, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 12, 2016 at 12:38 am)

Shipwreck dive site 12 miles off North Rock

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