Lena Wreck Dive, Bunbury
- Duration: 6 Hours (approx.)
A unique diving experience for divers of all levels of experience! The wreck is in a maximum of 18 meters and suitable for Open Water Divers and up.
The Lena was sunk as a dive wreck on Friday 19th December 2003
Apprehended by the Australian Navy in February 2002 while fishing illegally for Patagonian Toothfish in Australian waters the Lena now provides a unique dive wreck only 3 nautical miles from the coast at Bunbury Western Australia. Bunbury is only 180 km and a comfortable 2 hour drive from Perth.
Lena Boat Wreck Dives includes:
- 2 Boat Dives, departing Bunbury Marina
- Light Lunch
- Snacks & Drinks
The Lena story, as it affects Bunbury, commenced in February 2002 when the vessel was detected fishing illegally for Patagonian toothfish in Australian waters some 4000km south of Albany. Over the next few weeks the Lena was chased and finally apprehended by HMAS Canberra and eventually towed to Fremantle where the crew were charged for illegal fishing activities. The Bunbury Chamber of Commerce became aware of plans by the Australian Government to sink the Lena in deep water off the coast and immediately requested access to the vessel to sink as a dive wreck in 17 meters of water only 3 nautical miles from the coast. In December 2002 the Lena arrived in Bunbury and work commenced immediately to prepare the boat for sinking as a dive wreck. Local Bunbury residents Norm Linham and Geoff Paynter had previously been responsible for preparing HMAS Swan in Dunsborough, HMAS Perth in Albany and HMAS Hobart inAdelaide and so were the perfect team to oversee the preparation of the Lena for sinking. Over the next 11 months a team of volunteers, work for the dole participants and local dive industry workers completed the back breaking work necessary to complete make the vessel diver safe and environmentally clean. The Lena was ready to be scuttled in December 2003 and Roy Gabriel, a Canadian explosives expert, was engaged to rig the charges to send the Lena to the sea bed. Unfortunately the explosives needed to complete the task were sent by road from Adelaide to Perth without the necessary permits for road travel within WA and were confiscated at the WA-SA border. This was a major problem for the project and new explosives were required which led to a delay of some weeks.
After these frustrating weeks of delay and uncertainty the Lena was finally despatched to the sea bed on Friday the 19th December 2003 at 12.17 in the afternoon. This was exactly 12 months to the day that the Lena was towed from Henderson (just south of Fremantle) towards Bunbury. After the delays it was with a great deal of relief that the sinking operation went exactly as planned and the Lena arrived upright and pointing in the right direction 18 meters down.
The day started early with the Lena being towed from Bunbury Harbour just after 3.00am and as she moved down the coast to the scuttling site she was alight with flames as final cutting with 5 oxy torches was completed, from the shore it seemed she was in flames.
On site at 5.30am final preparations were completed and explosive charges were wired up and set for the scuttling. The Customs patrol vessel the “Dame Roma Mitchell” was acting as the control point and the ships Commander was delegated to provide the countdown to detonation. At 10.30am we were notified by Roy Gabriel that the charges were ready and we were ready to start the countdown but in a final twist, another delay, as the tug that was required to shift her into the final position was held up in the harbour.
Finally at 11.30am the tug arrived, the Lena was moved into position, crew exited the Lena and at 12.10pm the 5 minute warning was given. Then the 1 minute warning, then finally the final countdown. As we reached zero a plume of fire exploded into the sky, and 1 minute later theLena was gone – where she had been moments before marked only by a mass of bubbles and small items of debris.
The sinking went absolutely according to plan, the vessel settled straight and level and with a heading just north of due west.
Now she is on the seabed, sitting in 17 meters of water but clearly visible from the surface. Below the water fish immediately made her their new home. Only one day after the sinking large schools of “Bullseyes” were videoed around the stern and propeller and rudder. 2 weeks after the sinking large schools of bait fish swarmed over the and through the wheelhouse. The Lena is very quickly becoming a new, vibrant and diverse ecosystem where previously there was only sand.
The First Winter
After a particularly rough first winter had pounded the South West coastwe were concerned that the wreck may have suffered damage however apart from some minor damage to interior fitting left on board there were significant maintenance issues to confront divers before the 2005 season commenced. The only physical evidence of the pounding the ship received during the past 5 months is the rudder which has moved from its normal position for straight ahead travel to a position which is hard to port. This indicates the pressure exerted on the hull during the storms as the rudder had been securely locked into position (or so we thought) for the tow out to sea. The hull has settled further into the seabed and is now solidly secure for the future.
The good news is that there has been significant marine growth on the Lenaduring winter. The ship now is well covered and the first hard corals are also visible. Fish life is also abundant with large schools of bait fish and small skippy swirling around the hull.
The Lena provides a unique diving experience for all levels of diver experience. At 17 meters the bottom of the hull is accessible to open water ticketed divers where most of the other prepared wreck sites are, at 30m, beyond their reach. With wide open internal spaces and carefully planned entry and exit holes the Lenais a safe comfortable dive but with some special features to attract more experienced divers. Unlike other wrecks the Lenaengine room is open to divers with both the main engine and generators left in place. The propeller has also been left in place and has proven to be a popular photo site for divers with the myriad of fish making their home in and around the stern.
Bunbury now has a world class dive wreck just 3nm from the coast (30 minutes by boat). The Lena will continue to develop as a thriving reef system and be a magnet for divers eager to see this unique pirate ship in clear waters just 2 hours from Perth.
Term and Conditions
Charters are sometimes cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Should that happen, you can reschedule or receive a store credit.Once you’ve boarded the boat, no refunds are given if you decide not to dive.