SAVING HISTORY: Dr James Hunter with the wreck of HMCS Protector.
SAVING HISTORY: Dr James Hunter with the wreck of HMCS Protector.

Wreck’s high-tech ‘rescue’ to be first in central Queensland

THE HMCS Protector, lying in a shallow grave off Heron Island, will be the first wreck in central Queensland to be scanned by laser, in a bid to recreate the structure of the vessel in the virtual realm.

In the waters off Gladstone, the ocean floor is speckled with as many as 30 shipwrecks.

James Hunter, project archaeologist and research fellow with the SA Maritime Museum, said the Protector was an important part of Australian naval history.

"It was South Australia's first warships, one of Australia's original naval fleet, and it participated in the First World War," he said.

The ship also saw action with the US Army during the Second World War and was damaged in a collision with a tug in Gladstone Harbour in 1943.

Despite its heritage, the wreck has not been the site of archaeological investigation, nor is it a protected site.

Using 3D technology to recreate the vessel's structure will preserve the wreck for generations to come.

"The data we collect can be used as a 'baseline' to assess Protector's condition in coming years," Dr Hunter said.

He said it would provide a permanent, third-dimensional record of the ship.