An investigation is under way after a commercial diving boat carrying 12 people almost sunk off the coast of Moreton Island on Wednesday.
An investigation is under way after a commercial diving boat carrying 12 people almost sunk off the coast of Moreton Island on Wednesday. Courtesy Coast Guard Mooloolaba

Investigation under way after dramatic reef rescue

SEVEN divers are lucky to be alive after a dramatic marine rescue off the coast of Moreton Island yesterday.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is investigating the incident, where a commercial diving boat began to sink during a dive, forcing some of its divers into the water.

A 10m Sub Surface Scuba vessel was carrying 12 people on a dive at Flinders Reef when it started taking on water just before 11am.

An investigation is underway after a commercial diving boat carrying 12 people almost sunk off the coast of Moreton Island on Wednesday.
A group of seven divers started drifting out to sea after a Sub Surface Scuba diving vessel almost sunk on Wednesday. Courtesy Coast Guard Mooloolaba

Nearby recreational diver and off-duty coast guard Michael Dickson said the boat was only at the reef for about 5-10 minutes when he noticed divers "madly bailing" into the water.

The skipper reportedly told passengers to get in the water, but some weren't given fins and started struggling in the strong current, drifting out to sea.

Marine incident Flinders Reef: Courtsey Coast Guard Mooloolaba QF6 media unit
Marine incident Flinders Reef: Courtsey Coast Guard Mooloolaba QF6 media unit

Mr Dickson and a friend sprang into action, helping the group of seven divers to safety onto their boats.

"I've never seen anything like that happen," he said.

"It could have been a lot worse. It's an isolated spot and it's a long way from help.

"They were so lucky."

An investigation is underway after a commercial diving boat carrying 12 people almost sunk off the coast of Moreton Island on Wednesday.
Recreational diver and Mooloolaba coast guard Michael Dickson said the divers were extremely lucky. Courtesy Coast Guard Mooloolaba

Mr Dickson said Flinders Reef was more crowded than usual on Wednesday because of the good weather.

He said if it wasn't the middle of summer holidays, things could have been a lot worse.

The QF6 Coast Guard Mooloolaba media unit said three boats responded to the boat's mayday call, including the Mooloolaba and Bribie Island coast guards.

An investigation is underway after a commercial diving boat carrying 12 people almost sunk off the coast of Moreton Island on Wednesday.
The 10m boat was full of water when help arrived. Courtesy Coast Guard Mooloolaba

When the vessel was towed back to Mooloolaba, water police and AMSA officers were waiting to investigate.

The media unit claimed the Sub Surface Scuba vessel was impounded at the scene, but owner Stephen Kerry denied that statement and said the boat was not close to sinking.

Mr Kerry said the incident had been "blown out of proportion" and no one was in any danger.  

"We had water in our fuel ... so instead of driving the boat back and risking a breakdown we asked for a tow in from Coast Guard," he said.  

"No one was in danger, no one got swept out to sea."  

No one was injured in the incident, but Mr Dickson said some of the divers would have been shaken up.  

An AMSA spokesperson said a marine surveyor attended the vessel and issued the Master a direction notice to repair the motor and bilge pump before its next operation.  

"AMSA is continuing to gether information on the incident and will be inspecting the vessel before it is next operated to ensure it is safe."