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F69 Dive Reports

Please tell us about your dive! We'd love to tell your story and what you've seen!!!

Email us now to divereport@divewreck.co.nz

Fish - species? numbers? where on the ship? Other marine life.....crayfish?.....starfish?......kina?.....paua?......crabs?......etc. Marine growth - types? length? quantity? The overall dive experience?

The following images are of F69, the former HMNZS Wellington, now on the seabed off Wellington, New Zealand! Remember, this was a sandy seabed once... no weed to be seen except on nearby reef's.....now, its a hugely biodiverse landscape of nooks, crannies and large surfaces covered in a myriad of species... and divers love it too!

IMAGES FROM 28TH JANUARY 2009 - See how she has grown!

The hull and bridge, fully encrusted and complete with sea tulips!

THE BRIDGE IS NOW A LIVING GARDEN, A CAVE LIKE INTERIOR WITH AN AMAZING ARRAY OF MARINE SPECIES

 

IMAGES BELOW FROM NOVEMBER 2008

DIVER HEAVEN ABOVE AND A DOORWAY LOOKING MORE LIKE A GARDEN ORNAMENT

SEA ANEMONES AND TRIPLEFINS ENJOY THE INTERIOR + FURRY GUNS

TORN STEEL EDGE SOFTENED BY THE SEA!

 

IMAGES BELOW FROM AUGUST 2007

..................Mooring Rope - dive begins......................................................................Vent

........................................................................Blue cod everywhere......

..........................Side of Bow - mooring attachment ....................................................................................Diver Handhold

....................................Bridge roof ...........................................................................Bridge roof mount

....................................Captain on bridge!! ........................................................................Looking forward! mmm...where's the bow gone?

....................................The bridge, an easy dive....

....................................Weed forest - upper deck!........................................................................Look, a school of fish.....

................Triplefins everywhere, million's of them.... found around every part of the ship, inside and out!

..................Species galore .... a living garden!

................Sponges(above), corralines (right hand photo), algae, etc etc.....established and now competing for space.....

................Yes, this is the colour of the sea....south coast blue ocean!

....................................Back of bridge ..........................................................................................Staunchion and diver handhold

...........Starfish are also found all over the ship ......................................................Hatchway

......................Inside the officers quarters - growth inside.......................................................Inside haven , cod - spotties - triplefins

............................................Corridor area..............................................................................................................Moki patrol

......................Growing colour everywhere....no longer pristine naval grey.....now a textured garden!

....................................Weed covered - starting to look like the nearby reefs... ......................................................................

..........No tools in there... upper deck workshop....

......................Next dive...the bow..............................................................................Quiet guns

............Next to the wave breaker, in front of guns ...................................Gun turret hatch

.........................................Port side of bow ........................................................................................Mooring eye, port side bow

Weed weed everwhere, not a grey deck to be seen..................................................................the end of an amazing dive! Guns away!

The images above are compliments of Joanne Long.....thanks for letting the world see F69 in evolution- a living reef and a superb dive!!

Dive Report 10/08/2007: Seeding the seabed - an excellent update on F69....(click here) The story comes from the BranchOut magazine which is produced by Wellington City Council. Click here to see the whole magazine.

Dive Report 30/04/2007: New lease of life for wreck on Wellington seafloor


Photo: JOANNE LONG

MURKY DEPTHS: Diver Kelly Taylor explores the former warship Wellington, which now offers an 'extraordinary' diving experience after being sunk off the capital's coast in 2005. It went down in a ball of orange flame, and now the Wellington is sporting a rich coat of green slime. Almost 17 months after being sent to its grave off Wellington's south coast, the F69 is teeming with life.
Joanne Long, a Victoria University marine science technician, has made dives in the wreck since it was sunk in November 2005. She said a thick growth of seaweed now coated most of the ship. A sizeable school of blue cod had shifted into some of the nooks and crannies in the broken ship.
Swimming around the F69 was an extraordinary experience as the "high-energy" coastline and swarthy visibility made for an eerie underwater experience, she said. "There's no other dive like it. Parts of the boat are still very much intact but because of visibility it is very shadowy and mysterious." Ms Long said the three chunks of the ship were slowly collapsing and sinking into the sandy seafloor.
The former warship has endured its fair share of storms since being sunk. The bridge was still accessible for divers, while the gun turrets and barrels were in remarkably good shape - and made for impressive underwater photographs. By MATTHEW TORBIT - The Dominion Post

Dive Report 05/08/06.

Splash Gordon DiveShop took a group of divers out last Saturday, 05/08/06. F69 is behaving like a shipwreck, continuing to evolve into a living jewel.

During the last couple of winter months of rain, wind and snow and several southerly storms with 7m swells, F69 has not moved any further since the March, 2006 storm, notable for its huge13m swell that broke the ship in three. Well embedded, F69 has certainly become one with the seabed.

The bridge, officers quarters and bow all remain as an excellent penetration dive by qualified divers with the rest of the ship an absolute wonder to behold. A 1m carpet of seaweed now covers her upper decks and many species of fish are well established throughout and over the ship. Barracuda and Kahawai were seen investigating the ship for food. Summers coming!!

Dive Report 27/05/06.

Diver: Spencer Matthews

After my attempt to dive on F69 on the 22nd May was abandoned due to motion sickness, I was keen to get onto it on the 27th.It was a great afternoon and I headed out with Dave on 'Southern Comfort' from Splash Gordon's. First dive was on the stern section. The plan was to swim up the port side, up through the bridge and then back down the starboard to the mooring line. The visibility was about 8 metres and the water a brisk 13 degrees (on the 22nd it was 11 degrees!). My buddy and I descended well and did a loop around the flight deck section coming back to the large F69 on the stern. After giving it a bit of a clean we set off again to try and find the bridge section, only to arrive at the stern again a short time later (it was not until we reached the surface we found out the bridge section is separated by about 8 meters from the stern section and we just did not see how to get to it).We did a swim though under the flight deck penetrating through a cut hole in the deck and exiting out through the side. It was a clean swim through with no snags and about the only safe penetration we found in this section. There are a couple of other places you could get into the wreck through damaged areas, but they are very tight. Overall there are lots if jagged pieces of steel that you need to be aware of if poking your head into some areas when swimming around the outside. Not much fish like, but lots of large red cod sitting on the bottom under the hull. After a surface interval we went back out and with the assistance of a drop line were able to descend onto the bow section. It is still in excellent shape and we spent most of the dive poking around on the inside. It is all clean, and I spotted a speaker that we left behind. We ascended on the mooring line which was sitting 5 meters below the surface due to a slight miscalculation! (but it made for a great safety stop). I noted that where the line is moored to the wreck it results in the line rubbing on the side of the hull probably resulting in chaffing - it might be better to move it to the anchor chain. My buddy and I were smiling from ear to ear when we got to the surface - we had a great time. I would recommend the dive to anyone. Spencer Matthews

Dive Report 19/03/06. (Post March 06 Storm)

Diver: Raewyn Watson


WOW! I dived on the frigate this morning. First dive on the bow section and amazed what a clean break it was – although you can see the rest has been torn off as if by a giant hand - quite awesome. It is good to see the gun turret in place still.  The stern / middle section on second dive is (as you know) spectacular, unbelievable. I’m amazed (shocked) at the devastation – it reminded me of a plane crash in the movies! I was blown away by how much twisted wreckage there is.

 

It really is an exciting dive now and I can’t wait to get down there again to explore some more and try and get oriented a bit better. I found the bridge and gave our club plaque a well-deserved polish. I’ve attached a couple of photos – not great but still a record and shows that the fish and other sea life are appreciating their new home. The area was pretty much all sandy around the wreck so there was nothing to damage and now there’s all this debris for to create a wonderful reef-like home for all sorts of sea life. Raewyn Watson.

 

Dive Report 10/05/06.

On the 4 th & 5th March of this year the south coast of Wellington was struck by a 12.8m storm swell, at or near low tide at peak of storm. It was hoped some smaller storms would occur first so the ship had time to settle onto the seabed but this was not the case, with the first major swell peaking at 12.8m over two days of constant significant wave action.

We note that this is in contrast to the previous two storms which have occurred at or near high tide. The Waitangi Storm 2002 (13.2m) occurred at king high tide, resulting in coastal damage in a number of area's.

There have been 3 storms of this scale during the last 5 years with the recent making 4. Previous historic wave data and impact analysis was provided by several sources during the resource consent.

State of Vessel

Pre storm F69, with her bow still sitting above the seabed, was restrained by two anchor chains connected to an 8 tonne mushroom anchor, which is today (post storm) fully embedded.

During this swell the ship split into two initially, separating at the bow between the gun turret and bridge (50m), then three as its remaining mid and stern sections, whilst sliding in an anti clockwise direction pivoting on the stern, rudders and propeller drive shafts.

This sideways slide caused the keel to collapse, undermining the large engine room and boiler room spaces breaking the rest of the ship in half.

The sliding action has caused the lower deck (mainly stores and cooler spaces) and the next deck, accommodation and offices, to collapse after braking its keel as it slid sideways. The ship is now sitting on top of these two lower decks and has settled further onto the seabed, increasing the clearance of the vessel to the surface minimum depth [@chart datum] of 11.1m. This was formerly notified to mariners week commencing 16 th April.

The upper portions of the mid section and stern section remain intact and easily divable. The flight deck and hanger are also intact as is the bridge, officer's quarters, operations and sonar control rooms of the vessel. These areas can still be penetrated by divers with relative safety at present.

The majority of damage to the vessel has effectively happened in its lowest decks as a result of its sliding action along the seabed. As this has happened the bulk of the vessel has embedded itself into the sandy and light gravel seabed, within the consent area.

The bow has separated at the known weak point in the Leander hull design as had occurred with WAIKATO. While WELLINGTON a batch III Leander was strengthened over WAIKATO, as was stated at the consent hearing, this strengthening was clearly insufficient to prevent separation under the prevailing conditions. The bow is still secured to the anchor and is basically in its original form and position, with the large opening where the tear occurred providing significantly better diver access and light thru the bow section. This section is still fully dive-able with significant sea weed and coralline growth occurring on its exterior with numerous fish species visible all over the structure.

One chain is taught and the other slack and lying on the seabed so at this stage, having obviously sustained the storm, the bow is well secured and based on other coastal wrecks referred to in the resource consent, would appear destined to slowly collapse onto the seabed.

The mid and stern sections are also well covered in marine growth after nearly 5 months, home to a multitude of species. (Cod, Terakihi, Butterfish, Crayfish, Starfish, Triplefin, Spotties, Gobies as well as transient Barracuda, Kahawai and Dolphins.

Divers now describe the wreck as more exciting and shipwreck like, with a significant increase in species evident on all parts of the ship.

Safety

Immediately post storm at the first opportunity to dive the vessel the trust investigated the ship and found that the ship no longer resembled the vessel layout map provided to the dive industry, enforcement, monitoring and rescue services.

The trust notified the Harbour Master and requested that the ship be closed to divers, whilst Police National Dive Squad, making an exercise of mapping a shipwreck, provided a report on the state of the ship post storm. This included a written and video evidence report and was provided to harbours department, GWRC, WCC, TV1 and TV3.

Recommendations to the dive industry includes a map recommending access only to bow with external diving of all other sections. A Dive Safety media release was also produced by Police and was emailed to all commercial dive operators as a result of input from the dive squad. (Attached Appendix A)

Diving on wrecks has always been regarded as a specialty qualification and this has not changed with the current form of F69. External dives should only be undertaken by those holding an Open Water qualification. Those wishing to enter the ship must have undergone further recognised Wreck Diver training and qualification.

Debris

The trust was notified of quantities of timber and cork washing onto nearby beaches at 10.00pm Saturday night of the storm   by the Police Maritime Unit.

During the separation of the bow from the mid-section the freezer space was torn open, releasing timber and cork lining. Both of these float and were washed onto the beach. Along with this was a small amount of rubber pipe lagging from the same area.

That evening and the following two days trust members and volunteers removed the bulk of timber, cork and lagging from the beaches to the local landfill. During the following week monitoring of the beaches was performed and some further small amounts were removed as it was found. Total debris amounted to three trailers in total.

We note that very little timber remained on board F69 at time of sinking apart from the freezer space. With agreement of GWRC inspectors, this was left intact and on board and based on recovered material, is now completely gone from the ship.

The following weeks the coast has had further swell action with 3 weeks of southerlies, peaking at 8 metres. Upon inspection of beaches post swell there has appeared no further flotsam from F69 and no further changes noted of the shipwrecks state or position.

Location of shipwreck post storm.

The Police National Dive Squad, during the post storm review, provided GPS marks for the three sections of the vessel. These have been provided to Adam Greenland, Senior Hydrographic Surveyor, LINZ Hydrographic Services by Mike Pryce, Wellington Harbourmaster, for notification on maritime charts.

The GPS marks are as follows;

Original bow:-    

41   21 210 S       174 46   828   E    (present position)

Aft end of bow:-  

41   21   125S     174   46   807 E

Port forward corner of broken centre section:-    

41   21 137 S     174   46   808 E

Bridge (now starboard, forward corner of broken centre   section):-

41   21 148 S     174   46   787E

Port, forward corner of broken stern section:-  

41 21   138 S     174 46 783 E

Original stern:-  

41 21 145 S     174 46   767 E (present position)

There is some sections of steel debris from the ship on the seabed between the bow section and bridge as a consequence of the separation and these are already being covered by sand with any remaining structure above sand being quickly covered in marine growth and attracting fish. These appear well embedded and not considered a hazard for navigation, divers or the newly attached marine life.

We note that the ship still remains within the consent zone and is performing as intended as a reef and diver attraction.

divereport@divewreck.co.nz

 
  
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