Nova Scotia

Sunken Sydney ship to be raised in military exercise

A half-submerged ship, long considered an eyesore in Sydney Harbour, will be removed as part of a joint Canadian and American military exercise.
The Cape Ann III has sat abandoned in the harbour for several years, since the 53-metre vessel sank while it was being towed. (CBC)

A half-submerged ship, long considered an eyesore in Sydney Harbour, will be removed as part of a joint Canadian and American military exercise.

The Cape Ann III has sat abandoned in the harbour for several years, since the 53-metre vessel sank while it was being towed.

Rear Admiral Dave Gardam, commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic, said the navy had leased the Cape Ann III for $1 from the Artificial Reef Society of Nova Scotia, which owns the vessel.

"The vessel will then be brought up onto the shore and from that point on, we in the military have no more responsibility for the vessel," he told reporters.

"The vessel will be dismantled by a private contractor."

The Artificial Reef Society of Nova Scotia had acquired the ship and hoped to raise and transport it to the Brad d'Or Lakes to create an artificial diving reef.

John Aylward, a spokesman for the society, said relocating the ship turned out to be a risky idea because it was in such bad shape.

"As we got down the road, we found that wasn't an option but we'd gotten so far that it was kind of too late for us to back out," he said.

Ken Jardine, who is also with the society, said their luck turned when an old friend came home to Sydney for a visit.

Part of Frontier Sentinal 12 training exercise

"An old junior high buddy of mine, Bob Edwards, who's a military planner for exercises, contacted me last summer when he was visiting his mother," said Jardine.

"He said, 'I hear you know about the Cape Ann III.'"

Edwards took the idea to his superiors, who decided to test the expertise of Canadian and American dive teams by incorporate the raising of Cape Ann III in an annual training exercise called Frontier Sentinel 12.

The Frontier Sentinel exercises allow Joint Task Force Atlantic, the U.S. Fleet Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard as well as government and non-governmental agencies to practice operations to defend against threats in maritime Canada and the U.S.

Gardam said starting next week, the Cape Ann III will be part of a scenario that starts in the North Atlantic and moves into Sydney Harbour.

"The Cape Ann III, which has been partially sunk after an explosion in Sydney Harbour — the U.S. and Canadian divers will work to raise this vessel as part of the exercise," he said.

Gardam said the Cape Ann III provides a unique training opportunity because the military often needs to move sunken ships, not just in wartime but after hurricanes such as Katrina.

It's expected to take about three weeks to raise the Cape Ann III, as military dive teams patch up holes and pump out water before the ship is tugged ashore.

"When they get it raised it will be dragged on the shore by the military, the bow of it, 10 to 15 feet. Then a private salvage company will start cutting it up piece by piece," said Aylward.

"It'll be shipped off and it'll be gone. The actual cutting should be between eight to 10 days."

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