On 27 November 2011 we ran a trip to the wreck of the Crusader II, more commonly known as the Cementco, for UniDive (née The University of Queensland Underwater Club).
The ship started life as the Crusader, a WWII support vessel for the Australian Army. After the war ended, Crusader was sold to Queensland Cement and Lime Company and renamed Cementco. QCL retired the ship in 1984 renaming her Crusader II. In 1986 she was sunk in 27m, about 200m from Flinders Reef.
The ship now rests upside down with an average depth of around 23m and is covered in life. Two teams of twin take divers using Nitrox32 had a single 50min dive, with each team taking a shift as surface watch.
After shotting the wreck, we entered the water to secure the line and proceeded inside through a large hole toward the bow. Unsure of the state of the wreck and whether there were any other exits, we planned the dive using thirds and ran a reel. Before turning the dive, we explored all the way around the interior and into the engine room. Some sections of the wreck have collapsed and we found several large openings in the sides that would allow for an easy exit. Other sections, like the engine room, were more enclosed and should only be entered with appropriate training and experience.
Near the entrance there are several large rooms almost completely intact, however deeper inside where there has been more structural collapse, movement can be tight and solid fundamental skills help move around effectively and safely without impacting the wreck. Apart from the growth and fish life, there were also lots of pipes, ladders and other remnants of Crusader II’s former life above water.
Following this we had a short tour of the outer wreckage, back to the six large prop shafts and rudders at the stern.
After surfacing we took over surface watch while Jeremy, Bride, Mark H and Lee from UniDive, headed down for their own adventure…
Big thanks to everyone for a great day on the water and especially to Mark for lending me a wrist seal just before I jumped in—got to love zip seals.