By Greg McNeil
SYDNEY — The scrapping of the Cape Ann III has gotten underway, bringing an end to the infamous history of the vessel.
The 175-foot trawler had been partially submerged and rusting in Sydney harbour for more than five years until a Canadian-American military operation raised it as part of a training exercise.
“We originally wanted to use it as a dive reef but for environmental and some community reasons, we chose not to go that route,” said John Aylward of the Cape Ann III Artificial Reef Society, which acquired the vessel from its previous owner.
“It is going to be recycled, which is what we wanted. We wanted to see a problem become something positive.”
Terra Mac Construction is handling most of the demolition. Permits give the company until the end of June to send the ship to the scrap heap — something many thought they would never see.
“We’ve told each other it wouldn’t happen from time to time but never on the same day,” said Ken Jardine, who worked closely with Aylward on the project.
“John and I have had it since Day 1 that this had to be good for the economy, the environment and the community. If we could hit all three of those, which we are, this was a good thing to do.”
Jardine’s childhood friend, Bob Edwards of Sydney Mines, thought the ship would make an interesting aspect of the recent Frontier Sentinel 12 military training exercise.
“Bob was home on leave last summer visiting his mother and called me up,” said Jardine.
“Even then we weren’t sure because we had been down so many different rabbit holes that just ended.”
Although most in the community will be happy when the ship is a distant memory, members of the reef society are working on several projects to ensure it is not forgotten.
Through the Facebook site, Raising Cape Ann III, they are encouraging people to send their photos of the ship to be included in a pictorial record.
And they will give $100 to the best song written about the story of the ship.
The Cape Ann III Artificial Reef Society will also keep a couple of small pieces of the ship to use as part of a heritage site.
The cost of raising and beaching the vessel was covered by the military, while the recycled metal obtained during scrapping is expected to cover most of that expense.