Scuba divers from Torbay are bidding to transform the Royal Navy’s former flagship HMS Ark Royal into a diving wreck. Michael Byfield and James Doddrell are leading a bid to turn the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier into a reef. The group said the move could significantly boost the Devon economy, contributing a sum of £40 million to it. They said the vessel could emerge as the largest artificial shipwreck reef in Europe.
The divers are hoping to sink the ship, which was decommissioned in March after 25 years service, off the south coast, if the plan is approved. They highlighted the success of the former HMS Scylla, a Royal Navy frigate which was sunk off Cornwall in 2004. Since being sunk it has attracted a large number of divers to Plymouth, boosting the local economy. The team, called ArkRoyalReef, is one of the many bidders hoping to buy the vessel. Mr Byfield said: “We are talking to a few companies about towing her, and talking to ports where we could store her. “We would love to get it ready in time for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics when we could sink it, with a fireworks display, to coincide with that and get worldwide coverage.” image : UK Ministry of Defence