By Jack E George
The Mexican Navy ship, the Uribe 121, will be exploded in Puerto Nuevo, next October or November, according to Gustavo Torres from the Baja State Tourism Secretariat office in Rosarito. The ship is presently in Ensenada, where it is being cleaned and modified to make it environmentally safe. The paint is being removed; holes are being created in order for divers to swim through; dangerous poles and objects are being removed, so the ship will be safe.
According to Gustavo, the ship will have its permanent home at Puerto Nuevo, just south of Rosarito Beach. The decision to locate in this area is based on various studies, including those of the ocean floor, and the currents, and it was determined that this location would be the ideal place. This will be the first project of this kind in Mexico. The new area has been named the Underwater Park Rosarito, or Rosarito Submarine Park. Once the ship has been exploded, it will sink to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The ship will then begin the process of becoming an artificial reef. It will also contribute to the conservation of marine species.
This will be a haven for some of the 20 million divers located throughout the world. It is expected that many of the divers will want to spend some time in Baja, where they will be able to explore one of the newest artificial reefs in the world. According to Gustavo, this venture will boost the economy in Rosarito, as well as other areas in Baja. It will improve the hotel occupancy rates, while helping to serve many more meals in the area, resulting in an increase to the restaurant business. Most likely, some sidewalk cafes will open as well as diving shops. It is estimated that the project will add an additional 100,000 visitors per year.
According to Aaron Victorio, Director of Consejo Consultivo de Desarrollo Economico de Playas de Rosarito (CCDER), the idea for the project was conceived more than six years ago when the Baja CA Divers (BCA), a non-profit organization, visited his agency and suggested the idea. Aaron said, “We had no idea how involved the project would become. This involved an investigation, legal requirements, governmental regulations, and so forth.” Each requirement needed to be accomplished before proceeding.
Aaron said that finding the ship was the easiest part of the requirements. He said there are agencies around the world who are willing to donate a ship for free, or, sell one for a dollar. The big expense results from towing the vessel. Aaron said the ship has been offered to the local government of Rosarito at no cost. However, the cost to tow the ship from Colima to Ensenada totaled approximately $100,000 U.S. Gustavo said the project needs approximately 6.7 million pesos; so far, approximately three million pesos have been spent on the artificial reef project. He noted that other ships will be towed in over the next few years, and then exploded. He proudly announced that this park will be the first to achieve the stringent international guidelines in all of Mexico.
The underwater park will also provide excellent lessons for the students living in the area. This will be accomplished, in the near future, when a museum is opened. Cameras will also be strategically placed at the park, in various areas, allowing for students to observe growth. Aaron said the natural grown reef grows about one inch a year, and that it will take several years for the reef to form in the new park. He said a scale model, “a virtual boat,” will be created to travel to various schools and other locations in the area.
He also noted that, once the Uribe leaves Ensenada, the main structure of the ship will be Casco which means helmet in English. It is no longer considered a ship, but simply a shell. The ship was built for the Mexican Navy, by Empresa Nacional Bazan, in 1982. Once built, the ship measured 220 feet in length and 34 feet in width. It was capable of carrying a crew of 54 people. It was used as an offshore patrol vessel.
According to Gustavo and Aaron, we can plan to hear some loud explosions in just a few months. The public will also be invited to watch the explosion, as the Uribe is turned into nothing but a shell. However, it will find a new life, which will offer entertainment for thousands of people in the future.
Article in March 16-31, 2014
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