coastal british columbia  

sink the HMCS Cape Breton artificial reef  


Saturday, October 20, 2001
On October 20, 2001, 411' of the 441' HMCS Cape Breton was sunk off snake island near Nanaimo BC making it the largest diver placed artificial reef in the world. It sits a few hundred yards from the 366' HMCS Saskatchewan.
The ship is square on her keel in about 130 feet of water. Divers began diving her Sunday AM. The consensus, to a diver, was a collective WOW.

Used to be a nice quiet spot to hunt cod & cannonball.

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Saturday, October 13, 2001
I shot a few photos 1 week before she was sunk.

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
TR by Brian from Edmonton

I drove from Edmonton to Nanaimo, via Calgary, leaving Friday at around 2pm and arriving in Nanaimo at 8AM. We drove to the downtown area and boarded the liveaboard vessel Mamro (www.mamro.com). This was to be my home for the next few days. My group, consisting of myself, Charlene Barker from Aquaports in Calgary, Greg Mossfeldt (videographer extrodinaire) from Calgary, Ray Lefrense from Edmonton, Glen Scott from Edmonton, and Miranda Alldritt, sailed out to the sinking site along with a whole herd of other vessels of all types. The sinking was to happen at around 11:30am but as so often happens it took a while and the big event didn't happen until just after 12:30pm. Lots of flames and explosions. Very cool. As the ship went down it started to list starboard more and more. Oh, oh. It didn't look good. We headed back to shore to await further news. Later that evening we ran into Al Spilde, former Sea Venturer owner and a go-to guy for all things Nanaimo. He said that the navy guys had swept the ship for unexploded ordinance and declared the wreck safe and open. Oh yeah, the thing landing upright. Yay!!

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
engine cavern
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

We were to dive Sunday but the winds came up and we couldn't get out as we were slow to get going in the morning. Monday was kind of windy and overcast but we got out and did a dive. My first impression was that this is a very big ship, not a whole lot longer than the destroyers sunk previously, but much wider and deeper. The wreck starts at 85'. It's deeper than they had hoped. My first dive was spent forward of the bridge and we did a little penetration. Because of the size of the ship, penetration is much different than on the destroyers. The hallways are bigger, higher, the decks are wider, there's more of them and it's going to be much, much easier to get turned around and lost. This is not going to be a wreck for single 80 divers to be screwing around on doing penetrations.

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
up
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
down
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
in between
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

All in all I did 6 dives on the ship in 4 days of diving. We had hoped for more but the weather wasn't co-operating and we had big winds most days except first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. In 6 dives I think I covered a quarter of the ship. Like I said it's big. For two of the dives I was very lucky and got to use Greg Mossfeldt's Silent Submersion scooter. These things are way, way too much fun. The worlds that scooters open up is amazing. I want!!

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

The ship lies in about 135' but inside of the engine room you can get deeper than that because it's sunk into the mud bottom. Top of the bridge is 85', main deck is around 100'. Did I mention this thing is big. The engine room is a neat dive because you enter through the skylights on the main deck at 100' and freefall down to the bottom at 140'. The engine has been removed and is going to be on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum along with a chunk of the ass-end of the ship, which was cut off prior to the sinking. Lots of shafts and passageways to explore. Visibility sucked big time for the most part and it varied according to where you were on the ship. Best we got was maybe 30' and down in the engine room it was down to a couple of feet. It lies just off Snake Island, about a hundred yards from the artificial reef, the former HMCS Saskatchewan.

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

If you're into wrecks, the Cape Breton is a doozy of a dive. We're already planning a trip in February to dive her again.

Brian
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 
Cape Breton artificial reef photos 10/13/01
 

Cape Breton artificial reef project artificial reef society

Artificial Reef Society of BC

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