Be the first to explore EX-HMAS ADELAIDE underwater.
NSW Crown Land


Service History

Built in the United States, HMAS Adelaide was commissioned in November 1980 and was the first of six Adelaide-class guided missile frigates to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy.  The long-range escort frigate roles included area air defence, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance, and interdiction. The ship participated in the 1990/91 Gulf War, in peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 1999 and 2006, and was deployed to the Arabian Gulf in 2001 and 2004. The ship was also involved in the high profile search and rescue of solo yachtsman Thierry Dubois and Tony Bullimore from the Southern Ocean in 1997.

More interesting facts about HMAS Adelaide while in service:

  • The Adelaide’s two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines would drive a single propeller each, and each providing 20,500 horsepower propelling the ship at up to 30 knots – that’s around 55 kilometres per hour.
  • The Frigate’s full crew ranged between 185-220 people depending if a helicopter was on board.
  • The vessel could stay at sea continuously for more than six months at a time. Food and fuel would be replenished around every 7-10 days via a flying fox-type device from a supply ship - while the vessels’ continued their course at sea.
  • Up to eight cooks would serve the large crew a variety of meals in the ship’s mess. Crew favourites included pizza, lasagne, chinese dishes, bacon and eggs and steak. Themed food nights like Italian, Chinese and fast food, along with “Steel Beach Barbecues” on the ship’s flight deck were also crowd favourites.
  • The ship’s stores would hold 30 days worth of frozen and dry food and 10 days worth of fresh milk, and then it was powdered milk for all. Stores were never kept below 14 days worth of food in case the ship had to be diverted to another task.

Decommissioned in 2008, HMAS Adelaide was demilitarised by the Department of Defence before being handed over to the NSW Government in 2009.

The Ex-HMAS Adelaide has a proud history of service. We would like you to tell us what the Ex-HMAS ADELAIDE means to you. If you have a story to tell please contact us by email.

Read other people's contributions on our memoirs page.

Scuttling History

Ex-HMAS Adelaide was scuttled before an estimated crowd of 18,000 people on 13 April 2011. The sunken wreck joined four other former naval vessels that have been transformed into dive sites in waters off Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria since 1997.

The project was conceived by the community, and in 2000 the Central Coast Artificial Reef Project (CCARP) a non-profit organisation was formed from community representatives from Central Coast dive clubs and dive operators. The Ex-HMAS Adelaide was gifted to the NSW Government in February 2007, after efforts by CCARP to secure Ex-HMAS Brisbane and Ex-HMAS Canberra were unsuccessful with these wrecks being gifted to the Queensland and Victorian Governments respectively.

Consultants were engaged to assess and map the physical, environmental and operational constraints and to recommend a suitable location for more detailed environmental assessment as part of the planning approval process. Learn more in our Science section.

International guidelines for the best management practices and clean up standards for preparing ships to create artificial reefs were followed. As the sixth scuttled naval vessel in Australia, much had been learned from the scuttling experiences of previous vessels.

View footage of the ship’s scuttling.

The ship underwent extensive preparation to enable the vessel to provide a safe and effective dive site. This work was undertaken in Sydney’s Glebe Island and White Bay, before the vessel was towed to the Central Coast. The tow and scuttling events were major logistical exercises involving NSW Police, NSW Maritime, Sydney Harbour Master, Transport Management Centre, RTA, Busways, Parks and Wildlife Service, Ambulance Service, Gosford City Council, as well as volunteers from the SES, surf life saving and service clubs.

The process of scuttling the ship involved the controlled inflow of seawater to inundate the vessel as follows;

  • 16 locations on the hull were prepared for the placement of cutting charges below the water line
  • Rectangular openings were also cut on the vessel sides above the waterline (these had been prepared at Glebe Island with the final cutting occurring on the morning prior to scuttling). There were 19 openings on each side of the ship.
  • Pre cut openings through decks and bulkheads allowed water to distribute throughout the vessel and provided an exit route for air.
  • When detonated, the cutting charges below the waterline formed a jet of liquefied copper that cut through the steel hull, allowing water to enter the vessel.
  • As the ship started to sink, water entered through the openings cut above the water line.

At the time of the planned scuttling at 10.30am some friendly dolphins came for a look and the scuttling had to be delayed until they had left the area. The Ex-HMAS Adelaide was scuttled at approximately 11.48am 13 April 2011. The ship took approximately two minutes to submerge.

 HMAS Adelaide
 HMAS Adelaide
 HMAS Adelaide
 HMAS Adelaide

Photographs by Justin Gilligan