Ex-HMAS Tobruk

Birdon was contracted to environmentally sanitise, prepare and scuttle the decommissioned ex-HMAS Tobruk for use as an artificial reef and dive site in Hervey Bay. The ex-HMAS Tobruk dive wreck is a partnership between the Queensland Government, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast Regional Councils, which has created a world-class dive site in the Great Sandy Marine Park. As a part of this contract, Birdon also installed mooring buoys and navigational markers.

Birdon hired local personnel to carry out the preparation activities and held a number of community days as well as hosting more specialised focus groups. To protect marine life Birdon scuttled the vessel in Hervey Bay without the use of explosives, which also meant there were no environmental protests associated with the scuttling.

During the scuttling process, the ship listed to its starboard side and landed on the seabed on its side. Birdon worked closely with the Queensland government to ensure the safety of the dive site. This included cutting new access holes and enlarging others to ensure the safety of divers and to offer greater accessibility to this unique piece of Australian military history. Birdon’s management received sincere appreciation from the Queensland government for the successful completion of all rectification works which were carried out at Birdon’s expense.

The dive site was opened to recreational divers on the 25th February 2019 and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Over one hundred species of fish, including grouper, trevally and wrasse have made a home of the Ex-HMAS Tobruk and an abundance of marine life have colonised the metal surfaces of the wreck.


Ex-HMAS Sydney

The Department of Defence awarded Birdon the contract to disassemble and recycle Ex-HMAS Sydney. The work includes removal of dangerous goods and waste materials, removal of valuable materials for recycling and final dismantling and secure destruction.

The project required careful planning with consideration for ITAR regulations as well as relevant state, federal and international regulations. The project was undertaken in Henderson, Western Australia and allowed for the employment of 20 local employees and additional subcontractors for different aspects of the job.

Key phases in the project included:

  • Receipt of Ex-HMAS Sydney at the Common User Facility, Western Australia
  • Preparation for dismantling and destruction
  • Dangerous goods and waste materials removal
  • Valuable metals removal
  • Final dismantling and destruction
  • Finalisation of all documentation and reporting.

Birdon has a goal in all disposal work, not just to reach, but to exceed the expectations of clients and to guarantee complete destruction of items. This is achieved through the implementation of Birdon’s unique end-of-life recycling processes.

Throughout the disposal of Ex-HMAS Sydney Birdon co-operated with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to safely remove items of historic significance from the ship. Birdon understands the impact of disposing of an Ex-HMAS vessel. Having worked with a range of people who have served aboard vessels with the RAN, Birdon is committed to recognising those who served. Birdon designed and commissioned 300 commemorative plaques made from gunmetal removed from the vessel. These plaques were then made available to ex-service men and women and supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity. It is a small gesture, but one that has meant a great deal to the recipients.

This project was successfully completed, on budget and within the specified time frame.

M113 Armoured Vehicles Disposal

Birdon prepared and destroyed a fleet of 201 x M113 Armoured Vehicles for the Australian Department of Defence. All vehicles were decontaminated and made safe to transport before final destruction.

The process included the removal of fuels, contaminated water, lead-acid batteries, loose non-metallic items and dangerous goods including asbestos. Birdon used a Thermo Scientific MicroPHAZIR asbestos analyser to determine which items contained asbestos prior to the removal. This meant asbestos could be removed and disposed of at a licensed facility before final destruction.

Birdon sought approval as a temporary Waste Transfer Facility for this project.The vehicles were destroyed using a mobile shear and the scrap was sold as melting feed for foundry applications.This project was completed well ahead of schedule, on budget and with no injuries or accidents.

F-111 Disposal

The F-111 Fleet of Aircraft served as key defence assets between 1968 and 2010. The Department of Defence required a fully qualified and experienced contractor to successfully and safely dispose of the fleet and its critical spares.

Birdon was awarded the contract which included the recycling of valuable metals as well as disposal of hazardous materials such as boron, asbestos, fuel, various oils and greases. These items needed to be safely and responsibly destroyed and disposed of before the recyclable metal values could be recovered.

Birdon set up a secure, undercover, bunded, pre-destruction preparation area where hazardous materials were removed and contained. This reverse engineering process ensured only clean metals would be processed into scrap.

At the completion of the destruction and disposal project, the work site was remediated and demobilised before final environmental checks were done to ensure that the site was free of contamination.

Ex-HMAS Canberra Scuttling

Birdon environmentally sanitised, prepared and sunk the decommissioned the ex-HMAS Canberra as an artificial reef and dive site.

The project was undertaken in compliance with stringent environmental regulations and diver safety standards.

Birdon towed the ship 1686 Nm from Rockingham, Western Australia to Geelong, Victoria in June 2008. Between July 2008 – October 2009 the ship was cleaned and prepared in accordance with the guidelines used by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).

The ship was confirmed ready in October 2009 and on October 4, 2009 Birdon towed the vessel to the selected site near Point Lonsdale where it was orientated prior to being sunk.

The ship was sunk without incident and now lies in approximately 28 metres of water, resting upright on its keel, with the top of the mast 5 metres below the surface at low tide.

Fremantle Class Patrol Boats

Birdon scrapped 12 decommissioned Fremantle Class Patrol Boats (FCPBs) on behalf of the Australian Department of Defence.

The vessels, which were 42 metres in length and weighed 220 tonnes, were towed to Darwin Ship Repair and Engineering (DSRE) for dismantling and processing.

Birdon undertook all aspects of the disposal including project planning, contract management, quality environmental and safety management, and commercial support.

The disposal process itself included the removal and safe disposal of hazardous and dangerous materials including oils, fuels, asbestos and other general non-metallic items. Following decontamination, all recoverable metals were destroyed and processed as foundry feed. As part of the contract terms, high-value mechanical items, including 24 x MTU Detroit Diesel Engines were retained for preservation, refurbishment and on-sale to the commercial market. At the completion of the destruction and disposal project, the work site was remediated and demobilised.