The Dive Industry of Victoria Association (DIVA) has secured an undertaking from the Sea Shepherd Organisation to donate the MY Steve Irwin to sink as an artificial reef in Melbourne, which will act as a haven for fish life and as a major tourist attraction to divers worldwide.
The ship, shown in the Animal Planet show Whale Wars, was named to honor the late Steve Irwin in 2007. The ship was built in 1975 and was originally commissioned as FPV Westra. In 2006, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society purchased the vessel and renamed it MY Robert Hunter after Canadian Robert Hunter, founder of Greenpeace.
Sea Shepherd used the ship in attempts to disrupt Japanese whaling. One tactic involved Sea Shepherd members throwing bottles of foul-smelling acid onto the decks of the Japanese whaling ships. These and other tactics such as blocking Japanese whaling ships continued until 2013. Whaling ships often collided with the ship as well as MY Bob Barker, another ship in the Sea Shepherd fleet in attempts to thwart their attacks.
Sea Shepherd announced the ship will be retired, stripped and recycled in China, and the MY Ocean Warrior will be taking its spot as the flagship vessel of the fleet. There is an effort via online petition to sink the ship so it becomes an artificial reef. The price tag is $2.6 million, half of which Sea Shepherd volunteered to pay. The petition is to show the Australian government the level of interest in sinking the ship in Melbourne.
Melbourne is currently the wreck capital of Australia, where there are already 50 shipwrecks including four British WW1 submarines and an Australian Navy guided missile destroyer to dive on.