John Koon, left, and Matthew Caplins loosen the replica figurehead from the bow of the Falls of Clyde in Honolulu Harbor.
Ship in Distress
The Falls of Clyde is one step closer to being scuttled to create an artificial reef
The Bishop Museum is considering scuttling the deteriorating Falls of Clyde in shallow waters off the Waianae Coast to turn the historic ship into an undersea attraction for divers.
Museum officials are waiting for a formal plan that might save the ship. In the meantime, however, the state Aquatics Resources Division and Clean Water Branch recently inspected the 130-year-old vessel to see whether it would fit at the deep end of the Leeward Coast reef.
Officials requested more information on the vessel's measurements, particularly the height of the structure, to see if there would be the necessary 40 feet between the surface and the wreck.
Holes and hatches within the vessel also need to be secured for divers' safety for consideration as an undersea attraction.
"It will be a good dive if they fix certain things," said state aquatic biologist Brian Kanenaka, under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. "We want to put something that is safe out there."
He said the ideal depth would be 100 feet.
Alec Wong, chief of the Clean Water Branch, part of the Health Department, said the vessel is acceptable for scuttling in shallow waters. "We have no problem for them to sink the vessel off of Waianae," Wong said.
Costs to secure the vessel as an undersea attraction are estimated at $100,000 to $150,000.
Blair Collis, the museum's senior vice president and chief operating officer, said turning the Falls of Clyde into an artificial reef rather than scuttling the ship in deep water is the preferable option.
The museum had said a plan to preserve and restore the ship needs to be formalized by Monday or the Falls of Clyde will be scuttled. So far, one of two local groups that expressed interest backed out.
Also, an Australian man who expressed interest earlier has failed to provide formal documents on his restoration plan and failed to make plans to travel to Hawaii as requested by the museum officials to assess the vessel.
Collis said the ship is slated to be towed and scuttled — in deep or shallow waters — sometime in mid-September unless someone steps forward with a proper plan.
The Coast Guard, meanwhile, is preparing a safety plan for the ship to leave busy Honolulu Harbor under tow.
The museum had obtained conditional approval by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to scuttle the ship 12 miles off Honolulu Harbor at a depth of 1,800 feet sometime between Sept. 8 and 15.
The Falls of Clyde is the only fully rigged four-masted ship of its kind in the world. It was closed to the public in January 2007 due to unsafe conditions.
The uninsured ship continues to deteriorate while docked at Pier 7.
"We are at risk every day we leave the ship there," Collis said.