REEF EMPRESS: The Lady Musgrave Experience Fleet at the Bundaberg Marina.
REEF EMPRESS: The Lady Musgrave Experience Fleet at the Bundaberg Marina. Brian Cassidy

'Luxury' vessel joins Lady Musgrave Experience fleet

DESPITE a "disappointing result" for the ex-HMAS Tobruk scuttling, it hasn't stopped one local dive operator from looking to the future of the region's dive industry, adding a luxury vessel to his growing fleet.

Lady Musgrave Experience owner Brett Lakey yesterday announced the addition of a 35 metre luxury catamaran, the Reef Empress.

The ex-HMAS Tobruk has been closed to the public since its scuttling in June.

A statement from Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch in October said works to get the Tobruk dive ready were expected to take 40 business days, weather dependent.

Today marks the 45th business day since her statement was released. A spokesman yesterday said work had now started on the wreck. He said it would be open for dive operators to do business "weather permitting ... this summer".

Mr Lakey said the new vessel was a sign of things to come for the Lady Musgrave Experience. "It's bigger and faster to accommodate more people," Mr Lakey said.

The new ship is expected to get visitors to the island in less than two hours, helping to keep up with demand for tour groups.

While the Reef Empress won't be taking divers out to the wreck, Mr Lakey said one of the existing vessels would.

He said as soon as the wreck was available and open to the public, dive operators would "commence operations immediately" and offer wreck and reef dive packages.