Since the April 2015 sinking of the former HMCS Annapolis, the ship has performed admirably by providing complex habitat to support species abundance and diversity in an area damaged by decades of log booming. Video footage by volunteer divers has contributed significantly to the Artificial Reef Society (ARSBC) five-year citizen science monitoring program, known as Project ABIS (Annapolis Biodiversity Index Study).
The study demonstrates the efficacy of carefully planned long term artificial reef development. A summary report of the ABIS findings can be found on the ARSBC website Projects page; additional details can be found on the OceanWise Research Institute website in their 2020 review of the marine ecological health of Howe Sound. The Ocean Wise report contains the abridged data collected by the ABIS project between 2015 and 2020, which has been verified in cooperation with the Vancouver Aquarium marine taxonomy specialist.
The airframe of the Sea King replica will afford a pinnacle adaptation rising from the flat surface of the flight deck. It will be constructed to full scale in a skeletal design using benign steel bars, allowing current to flow freely and thus create additional habitat opportunities. Divers will be able to swim through the 50-foot fuselage from the port side crew door to the starboard side rescue door, and take advantage of cockpit photo opportunities.
The ARSBC is working in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Pacific Science Enterprise Centre (PSEC), building on the data collected through the ABIS Project, with new studies being planned by PSEC and Artificial Reef Society managers.
Installing a full-size replica heli-copter – 16 feet high, 69 feet long, with five rotor blades – on the flight deck where the aircraft originally operated, is a symbolic tribute to all who served in the Royal Canadian Airforce aboard the former HMCS Annapolis. This innovation represents our tenth Society project, which will complement an already-existing reef site.
The project is subject to final government approvals and remains a work in process.
Photo courtesy of forposterityssake.ca