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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Divers allowed to explore ship
The BBC's Alex Bushill
The BBC's Alex Bushill was one of the first people to dive the wreck
Divers have been given the all clear to start exploring a former Royal Navy frigate sunk off the Cornish coast.

HMS Scylla was scuttled on Saturday at Whitsand Bay in Cornwall to create the UK's first artificial reef for divers.

The National Marine Aquarium, which bought the vessel for 200,000 from the Royal Navy, had been hoping to allow divers down on Sunday.

But the discovery of air pockets meant further inspections had to be made before it was declared safe.

Aquarium spokeswoman Melanie Cowie said the go-ahead for diving was given at 1230 BST on Monday.

'Fantastic site'

The ship, decommissioned in 1993, was sent 21m (68ft) to the bottom after a series of explosives were detonated.

Species such as conger eels, pollock and sea bass could already have moved in.

Environmentalist David Bellamy, who saw the scuttling, said marine life would thrive in and around the 2,500-tonne ship, which was positioned 500m from the wreck of a Liberty cargo ship that was torpedoed in World War II.

Scylla
HMS Scylla sank after a series of explosions
He said: "There will be millions of organisms growing on it, tiny little things that you wouldn't see without microscopic eyes.

"Because there is such heavy fishing around the world, there is really nothing left.

"The only places you can find large concentrations of marine life are where there is a Second World War wreck."

The Plymouth-based National Marine Aquarium (NMA) will be sending pictures of the vessel's development as a reef back to the aquarium via live web cams.

NMA chief executive Michael Leece said: "It is the end of the beginning as we look forward to exploring the wonders of the ocean as Scylla becomes a fantastic reef site."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Alex Bushill
"Here goes.. I'm one of the first divers on the Scylla..."



SEE ALSO:
Warship scuttled in Cornish bay
27 Mar 04  |  Cornwall
Scylla sinking date revealed
01 Mar 04  |  Cornwall
Former crew visit reef warship
30 Nov 03  |  Devon


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