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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 January, 2004, 09:51 GMT
Warship prepared for divers
HMS Scylla back in Plymouth
HMS Scylla is due to be scuttled off Cornwall in April 2004
A retired warship destined to become the first artificial diving reef of its kind in Europe is being prepared for her new role on the seabed off Cornwall.

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth bought the decommissioned 2,500-tonne vessel from the Ministry of Defence earlier this year.

She is due to be scuttled off Whitsand Bay in April to create a haven for divers.

As part of the 1m project, the Leander-class frigate is undergoing preparatory work at Plymouth's Devonport Dockyard.

HMS Scylla
A Leander Class Frigate with a general and anti-submarine role
Built in the late 1960s
Weighs 2,500-tonnes
113 metres in length
The ship was recommended for disposal in 1991
She was decommissioned in December 1993
Similar vessels have been placed on the seabed in Canada, Australia and New Zealand
Experts from Canada have been brought in to advise contractors how to make the ship safe for divers and the underwater environment.

Jay Straith, President of the Canadian Artificial Reef Consultancy, said the ship's tanks would be scrubbed out, her doors and hatches taken out and any materials containing harmful substances removed.

Mr Straith said: "You can never make a ship 100% safe.

"But a number of exit points will be installed at different areas so divers can leave the vessel quickly."

The Scylla will be sunk using a controlled explosion to create around 12 holes in her hull.

The BBC's Lucie Fisher
"It was a nostalgic if somewhat surreal trip down memory lane."

Former crew visit reef warship
30 Nov 03  |  Devon
Reef ship clean-up starts
10 Nov 03  |  Devon
Reef vessel arrives in city
08 Nov 03  |  Devon
Vessel to be sunk for reef
14 Oct 03  |  Devon

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