The Artificial Reef Society of British
Columbia announced that a Boeing 737 airframe will be sunk near Comox, on
Vancouver Island, instead of near Sechelt as previously announced.
Tex Enemark, President of the Artificial Reef Society of
BC, and Bill Coltart, Projects Co-ordinator for the Comox Valley Dive
Association, said that an arrangement had been made by which the diving
community and tourism operators in the Comox Valley area were taking on
the responsibility for raising financing to place the plane as and
artificial reef for divers about a mile off shore from Comox.
Enemark, speaking for the ARSBC said, "The Comox-area
diver and diving community have wanted an artificial reef sunk nearby
since the BC artificial reef program started a dozen years ago but, for a
variety of reasons, it has never happened. This will be a very interesting
and unusual artificial reef," he continued. "It will add hundreds of
thousands of dollars per year to dive tourism in the area.
virtue of her being only 37 feet high," said Coltart, "she will be able to
offer divers the opportunity to do penetration dives shallower than 70
feet. This makes for an ideal diving training environment. The 6 ships
that the ARSBC have sunk are somewhat deeper, with main decks at over 80
feet in most cases and the bulk of the artificial reef below that. Such
depths are sometimes intimidating for divers, and shorten the time a diver
is able to spend underwater. The airframe, with its wide-open inside
space, numerous existing windows, and extra access holes we will cut for
divers, will offer a well lit, expansive reef to explore at an
advantageous depth. It will be an excellent and safe place to learn wreck
basic diving skills."
Howard Robins, Vice President of the ARSBC, who has led
the preparation of the airframe for sinking, said, "A large number local
divers, as well as divers from Washington State, worked very hard as
volunteers to prepare the airplane for sinking over the spring and summer.
The airframe is now clean and ready for inspection, and the only thing
between us and sinking the plane is a detailed Environment Canada
permitting process, which we now have to start all over again. A permit
was filed today."
"The plane was built in the 1960’s and is 100 feet long,
has a 96 foot wingspan, and in its stripped state weighs about 20 tonnes.
She served the people of Canada very well for many years and now goes on
to a whole other career as a major interest to divers, a "condo for fish"
and other marine life, and a platform for scientific study. I cannot think
of a single diver who has ever ridden an airplane without thinking, ‘Gee,
this would make a great artificial reef’ for diving.
"At this point do not yet know exactly where in the Comox
area, or when, we will be sinking the 737, " said Enemark, "because it
must be environmentally sound according to stringent Environment Canada
rules and a permit is required from Navigable Waters. Such a site must not
be in conflict with other users, among other things. There is also a
lengthy consultation process to go through. We hope to sink her in May,"
"Dive tourism," concluded Enemark, "is rapidly growing in
BC. However, one of the continuing challenges we face in making it grow
more rapidly is inadequate financial support from tourism promotion
agencies. While BC Tourism contributed $120,000 to promoting dive tourism
in 1995, and both Nanaimo Tourism and Vancouver Island Tourism have also
been helpful in recent years, the amounts have not been enough to
adequately promote an industry that adds about $ 8 million per year to our
tourism industry. In its absence, the publicity from the activities of the
ARSBC in sinking ships to make artificial reefs have put BC on the world
map of scuba diving, and led to readers of Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine
rate BC as one of the best dive destinations in the world in recent years,
with BC earning 8 ‘firsts’ in Rodale’s Annual Survey, more than any other
The working capital for the artificial reef program was
provided by the Federal government’s Western Economic Diversification
For further diving information contact:
Artificial Reef Society of British
Tex Enemark, President: (604) 275-5553, or (604) 836-1120
Howard Robins, Vice President: (604) 733-1122
Comox Valley Dive Association:
Bill Coltart, Projects Co-ordinator: (250) 338-6829, or 338-3219
Modified from the Artificial Reef Society
press release, January 13, 2004
The ARS-540 has been Re-routed
We have recently signed an agreement to sink the Boeing 737 near
Comox, British Columbia. We will re-submit our sinking permit application
to Environment Canada. Please see our
Project Log page for details on the site, and to see photos from the
Airplane clean-up and preparations are
complete. Thanks to our many Volunteers who helped, especially the Emerald
Sea Dive Club of Edmonds, Washington, and the Ocean Pro Dive Club of South
diving, artificial reef, sunken plane,
dive British Columbia, Comox Valley, diving reefs