Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Ship to be sunk
as subsea attraction

LAHAINA >> Once a floating museum about whaling, the twin-masted Carthaginian is expected to become an underwater attraction for dive visitors.

Atlantis Submarines Maui hopes to have the 97-foot vessel sunk in Lahaina waters sometime between November and January to serve as an underwater attraction for its cruises.

James Walsh, general manager of Atlantis Submarines Maui, said state and federal officials are reviewing a draft environmental impact statement.

"It's a complicated process," Walsh said.

The steel-hulled vessel, rigged as a brig, replaced a wooden vessel used in the film "Hawaii" and has been serving as a museum at Lahaina Harbor since the mid-1970s.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation officials, who sold the Carthaginian for a nominal fee last year to Atlantis Submarines, plan to find a replacement vessel.

They said it was cheaper to buy a new vessel than fix the Carthaginian.

Walsh said workers have cleaned the ship and removed the wiring in the vessel to prepare it for sinking.

Under the Atlantis Submarine proposal, the Carthaginian would be sunk in about 95 feet of water about a half-mile offshore between Puamana and Launiupoko parks on the southern end of Lahaina.

Walsh said the new attraction would be open to all divers and relieve some of the pressure on other dive areas.

He said the sinking of the Carthaginian is costing the business about $300,000 to $400,000.

Foundation Executive Director George "Keoki" Freeland said his group is unable to make a "complete deal" on selecting the replacement until the Carthaginian is removed from the harbor.

Freeland said the foundation has 120 days to put another vessel in the slip and has five choices of vessels.

He said the easiest options include purchasing one of the two twin-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoes based in Lahaina -- the Moolele or Mookiha.

The Mookiha is under construction at a county park in Lahaina.


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