Sinking the Waikato
by Dave Moran
On 25 November 2000 the HMNZS Waikato sank below the waves to begin her life as an artificial reef. She took just two minutes and 40 seconds to sink after the explosives were detonated.
Sitting upright in 28 metres, she is already being colonised by marine life. And what do divers think?
‘It’s a fantastic dive! Its created the underwater equivalent of a new city for marine life,’ said Glenn Edney, diving instructor and underwater photographer.
Some of the highlights for divers are seeing the huge propeller (which was originally going to be removed), and the guns on the frigate’s foredeck.
Now is a great time to dive the Waikato. Objects and signs are easily recognisable, but will soon be covered with a tapestry of marine growth. In addition you don’t have the worry of disturbing silt as you swim through the many access ways throughout the ship.Sitting in a desert of sand, the Waikato will become an oasis of brilliant life and colour as she settles into her new role of providing five star accommodation for our finned friends.
|The Waikato is a Batch Two (narrow beam) Leander Class Frigate with an overall length of 113.2 metres, a beam of 12.4 metres and a draft of four metres.|
As an anti-submarine warfare frigate, the Waikato was armed with twin 4.5in guns in the turret, two 20mm Orlikeon machine guns on the wings, a quad Seacat anti-aircraft missile launcher, six 12.75in anti-submarine torpedo tubes, one anti-submarine warfare Limbo mortar Mark 10 and a Wasp helicopter capable of delivering both depth charges and the Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedo.
During her active service she was instrumental in rescuing a US Navy Seaking helicopter when it was losing power and running out of fuel. Her small flight deck wasn’t designed for such a large aircraft to land, but she managed, saving the crew and the aircraft.
In 1970 she suffered a major fire in her engine room which was pivotal in changing the way the Navy prepared its ships for fire and damage control.
During the Falklands crisis, the Waikato was stationed in the Indian Ocean to relieve a Royal Navy ship carrying anti-missile weapons.
The wreck of the Waikato is located 1500 metres south east of Motutara Island and 4.4 kilometres south of Tutukaka Head Light. For trips to the Waikato site see the Charter Boat listings on this website.