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A diver examines a gun turret hatch on the German cruiser Kronprinz Wilhelm in Scapa Flow
The idea has been there for some time, but we have now got to the point where a firm business plan and feasibility study is nearly ready for launch, Bob Anderson, Secretary of the Orkney Dive boat Operators Association, told Divernet.

We expect a full draft in about six weeks time, after which consultation will include the public, environmental agencies, the harbour authority, the local council and enterprise bodies.

We would hope to make a final report by mid-summer.

The plan is already backed by the local council, which has agreed in principle to help fund the project; and by VisitOrkney, the areas tourism body, which recognises that increased numbers of visitors would benefit local businesses other than dive operators.

Independent consultants to the project include Nick Murns, who ran the Artificial Reef Consortium which kick-started the project to purchase the frigate HMS Scylla, now sunk off the South Coast at Plymouth.

A recent BBC web news report quoted Bob Anderson as saying that, because the existing group of scuttled WWI ships was gradually deteriorating, the sinking of new wrecks in the area was necessary as an investment in the future.

So did Bob see the wreck scuttling plan as the first of a number of sinkings Well, that may be desirable, but lets take one step at a time, he told Divernet. I do think that the sinking of this one new wreck would make a difference in taking pressure off some of the existing dive sites in Scapa Flow.

Bob said that a specific decommissioned vessel was being targetted, and that the MoD had been informed of the interest in acquiring the ship for scuttling as a diving attraction.

Im not at liberty to name the ship, but I can say that she is a quite elderly escort vessel of about 10,000 tons, he said. Thats basically like a big frigate - and the ship dates to an era when, in my view, warships were still built to graceful designs!

The Orkney Dive Boat Operators Association is launching a website click here to document the project and act as a conduit for communication.