Could sinking the former flagship of the Royal Navy really boost tourism on the English Riviera by almost £10 million ($15 million)? Torbay's city council hopes so. The local harbor committee recently approved plans to sink the HMS Royal Ark - a decommissioned light aircraft carrier and former flagship - six miles off the coast of Devon, providing a haven for wildlife and creating an instant attraction for divers.
According to the Daily Mail, the charity Wreck the World bid £3.5 million (or $5.3 million) to claim the Ark Royal in a effort to eventually have it sunk so it sits approximately 5 to 10 meters below the surface of the English Channel. This would provide opportunities for both novice and experienced divers to explore one of the most iconic ships in the history of the Royal Navy.
The Ark Royal was an Invincible-class aircraft carrier that served as the flagship for the Royal Navy from her launch and commissioning in 1985 to her decommissioning in 2010. The ship had a unique landing deck that was swept upward like a ski-jump for use by Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing Aircraft. With a compliment of over 1000 men, the Ark Royal saw service during the Bosnian War in the 1990s and offered support during the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.
As a dive site, the Ark Royal could handle up to 300 divers per day, even though there is support to have the ship turned into a museum so it could be enjoyed from above the water, instead of from below. Even though the English Channel may not have the cache among divers as, say, the Florida Keys or even Bali, tourism is tourism and any boost to the local economy is certainly a good one.