Tall Ship ‘Defender’, owned by Mr Les Dick of Tasmania, has sunk at Ross Creek, Townsville where she has been based for the last 7 years having suffered damage from an engine room fire.
The vessel was spotted submerged at a wharf in the CBD, with just her rigging left visible above the waterline.
It has been suggested that an act of vandalism is to blame for the unfortunate event however the police have not yet been involved, pending the results of the investigation into the incident by Maritime Safety Queensland.
Mr Dick expects to know by tomorrow (07th January 2016) whether they will be attempting to salvage the Defender. Having initially stated that at the next low tide the plan would be to simply pump the boat out and refloat her, he has realised that it is going to be a rather complex operation, with “quite a bit” of luck involved.
The alternative however, would be a tragedy as the 1895 Defender, is the last of her kind with a colourful history to go with her impressive age. She was originally used as a trading vessel, then broke the record for a Bass Strait crossing in 1923 before being used in the second World War to transport supplies and troops.
Purchased by Mr Dick in 1982, the Defender was given a refit and took part in the bicentenary re-enactment of the sailing of the First Fleet into Sydney Harbour in 1988, as well as the Bicentenary Tall Ships Race from Hobart to Sydney.
There is a lot of support for the operation as the vessel’s restoration in 1988 was undertaken with love and care, with donations from many Tasmanian residents to help with the project. Since then, she has been a representative for Tasmania wherever she has gone, and to see the end of such a beautiful, historic vessel would be devastating.
Picture courtesy of ABC's Pat Hession.