HMAS Tobruk (L 50) was a Landing Ship Heavy (LSH) of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), based on the design of the Round Table-class of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Launched in 1980, and commissioned in 1981, she was a multi-purpose, roll-on/roll-off heavy lift ship capable of transporting soldiers, APCs, and tanks, and delivering them to shore via landing craft or directly by beaching.
In 2015, the ship was decommissioned, and in 2017 was gifted to the Queensland Government by the Commonwealth and subsequently prepared as a world-class dive wreck and artificial reef to be sunk in the waters of Hervey Bay.
The scuttling preparation works were contracted to Birdon (Qld) Pty Ltd who have a strong relationship with White Industries. Birdon are an Australian family-owned business that employs around 200 people worldwide. Through discussions with Craig White and Birdon Disposals Manager, Trent Raines, the team quickly recognised the importance of this ship through its service to the country, and wanted to ensure that the ship lived on in as many ways possible through the recycling of its metals.
The ship was to be scuttled in waters around 28 metres deep, and therefore many of the over-height structures including the exhaust stack, the mast and the Valley Derrick crane needed to be reduced in height. The crane was a sturdy structure and had a Safe Working Load of 80 tonne and therefore had good heavy sections that would be ideal as raw material melting scrap for Whites. As no cranes were able to access the ship, each piece was cut to size and brought down by hand. The heavy steel was lowered down into the tank deck of ex-HMAS Tobruk and loaded into forklift-able containers. The containers were then taken to land by barge and loaded onto White Industries’ truck for transport to Dalby.
7 News covered the scuttling of the ship and visted the foundry to whitness the Tobruk’s scrap metal being melted down in our furnace. You can watch the report via Facebook by clicking the image below: