Feds seek to complete survey of shipwreck

By Jane Gerster - Windsor Star

The federal government is looking to finish a survey of an underwater shipwreck littered with tonnes of munitions just outside of Halifax.

Defence Construction Canada, a Crown corporation that serves the Defence Department, has issued a tender for a contractor to complete the survey in an area south of the city that's popular with recreational divers.

The project, which is estimated to cost $310,050, is listed in a notice recently posted on a website that advertises government contracts.

The SS City of Vienna narrowly missed the entrance to the Halifax harbour on July 2, 1918, and was wrecked on rocky shoals near Sambro Island.

The ship's crew made it off safely with some of the cargo, but during a gale two months later the boat sank into deeper water.

The ship's log shows it was carrying an arsenal that includes 60-pounder shells, Howitzer empty projectiles and shrapnel.

Defence Construction Canada says 363 tons of shells were reportedly salvaged and removed from the site.

"Based on the above quantities, it is estimated that up to 10,000 individual munitions items may remain at the site, or a total of approximately 815 metric tonnes," Defence Construction Canada says in its notice.

"It is unknown whether all items are empty, or if some may be filled with explosive contents."

The ship's hull is no longer intact and the entire area is described as a "debris field."