On 4 Apr 2015, the HMCS Annapolis officially ended its life on the surface and became BC’s latest planned artificial reef! The process wasn’t without difficulty though. In addition to the regular process of cleaning the wreck and locating a site to sink it, there was a last minute attempt by residents near where the ship was to go down to stop the operation. Although done on “environmental” grounds, it was a shallowly concealed NIMBY situation. The judge ultimately sided with the ARSBC and Squamish First Nation, and the ship was sunk shortly thereafter. the sinking went according to plan, with the ship coming to rest upright and correct.
video by Patrick Grundle, taken with Ocean Pro Divers
The HMCS Annapolis is the latest in a series of ex-Royal Canadian Navy vessels to be sent to the briny deep by the ARSBC, and has already begun to attract the attention of divers in BC. As it’s the end of the good diving season in BC (vis is already going to the dogs), many dive groups and charters are planning to hit the wreck as soon as next weekend! The site has been cleared of banners and checked over by safety divers, and the first open weekend is looking like it’s going to be crowded. The site itself is in the Halkett Bay Provincial Park, off of Gambier Island in Howe Sound.  The bay suffered serious ecological damage owing to its use as a log boom storage location, so the addition of an artificial reef will be key to revitalizing the area. It’s sinking was publicly supported by the Squamish First Nation as well, which is a serious step in the right direction for future projects of this sort.
The site has already been depth profiled by Russell Clark at Cool Dives, and a basic image was released via their Facebook page. Based on this profile, Cold Water Diver has put together a depth profile based on information available that is good for both metric divers and imperial divers! It also includes a bit more information about the dive and the HMCS Annapolis itself. Use the image below or download the pdf of the HMCS Annapolis Depth Profile!
The HMCS Annapolis is a penetration friendly wreck, in a reportedly low current area. It’s a boat dive, so a charter or private boat is the only way to access it. The ship is at a maximum depth of 33.5 metres (110′), making it accessible by divers with at least their Advanced Open Water certification owing to the depth. The Okanagan Dive Club, headed by Kelowna Divers, will be headed to this new site this year. Fingers crossed I will be on that dive trip! There is also footage ready to go from the site itself, giving us an idea about how diving there will be!