Plans to create an artificial reef by sinking a Navy frigate off the South West would bring substantial economic and social benefits to the region, a feasibility study has said.
HMS Scylla: Reef project could be worth millions
The Artificial Reef Consortium (Arc) wants to buy the former Royal Navy warship HMS Scylla and sink her in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall as an attraction for divers.
Preliminary results of the study, commissioned by the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), indicate the sinking of the ship could turn nearby Plymouth into a global centre of diving expertise.
The attraction would also increase opportunities for local businesses through tourism, medical research and design, technology, science and education, the study said.
The consortium estimates the cost of the project, including the purchase and cleaning of the of shop to make sure it does not harm marine life, would be about £250,000.
HMS Scylla will undergo stringent environment preparations before being placed on the sea bed
Regional Development Agency
But it estimates the project could be worth tens of millions of pounds to the local economy.
RDA Enterprise Manager Alan Berry said after a meeting on Monday looking at initial study results: "The meeting was very positive and we're all in agreement to move forward."
A steering group will now recommend that the RDA and its partners provide the necessary funding to make a competitive bid for HMS Scylla, which is due to be auctioned in June.
Mr Berry added: "If our bid is successful, HMS Scylla will undergo stringent environment preparations before being placed on the sea bed.
"This will create a rich natural environment for breeding fish, a great tourist attraction and be of potential interest to Plymouth's marine science sector."
Nick Murns, project manager of Arc, said: "This has reinforced everyone's view that HMS Scylla could bring positive benefits culturally, economically and socially."
The South West Economy Centre at the University of Plymouth is carrying out the study, which is due to be completed on 20 March.