Lancelin, Western Australia
Type of dive: Wreck
Access: Boat only (40 minutes)
Minimum qualification: Deep Diver (Advanced with suitable experience)
Depth: 26-42 metres (85-138’)
Visibility: 10-30 metres (30-100’)
Water temperature: 18°C (64°F) – 22°C (72°F)
Best time to visit: October & March (Limited opportunities)
Snorkelling: No, too deep.
|Type: Non-propelled jack-up drilling rig|
|Launched: Singapore 1972||Sunk: 1983 (floundered in storm)|
|Length: 61.8 metres (550’)||Beam: 51.21 metres (89’)|
|Displacement: 2695 tons||Speed: Under tow|
|Crew: 52||Passengers: Nil|
In September 1983, while undertow from Darwin to Fremantle for stacking in the Cockburn Sound to await deployment, the Key Biscayne and support vessels, Atlas Van Diemen and Argus Guard, struck rough weather.
The tow line parted in gale force winds and heavy seas and Key Biscayne sunk 19 kilometres north west of Ledge Point off Lancelin. All 52 crew were rescued uninjured by helicopter.
The drilling rig now sits on sand upside down in 42 metres (138’) of water. The top of the wreck is in 26 metres (85’).
Key Biscayne had three triangular truss legs 108.8 metres (360’) long, four deck mounted cranes, four level accommodation quarters for 95 crew, and a helipad.
No effort to salvage the wreck was mounted and the bottom is literally covered with junk and debris, including a container, drilling pipes and chain.
The main part of the wreck is an upside down pyramid with the crew quarters under the the triangular main hull. The jack-up arms extend out away from the main body and support a huge population of western rock lobster (crayfish).
The wreck structure supports colourful sponges, ascidains and bright gorgonian fans; and the invertebrate life just keeps getting better as the wreck ages on the bottom.
The fish life is stunning.
Large schools of pelagics such as trevally and Samson fish circle the wreckage with grey nurse sharks. Western Australian dhufish, snapper, Port Jackson sharks and many other fish reside amongst the Key Biscayne debris.
Because the location of the Key Biscayne quite exposed and subject to current, access to the wreck is very limited but certainly well worth the effort.
Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair
Other great dive sites to visit while you are there:
Lancelin Reef, Ledge Point, Cervantes, Jurien Bay and Yanchep Beach.
Phone: (08) 9389 5018