Once among the country's best warships, a steam-powered destroyer will become an underwater tourist attraction off the coast near Vancouver.

On Sunday, the stripped-out hull of the HMCS Annapolis was towed to Howe Sound for final preparations before being sunk to create an artificial reef.

"It's a very unique vessel, and a great addition to the fleet of artificial reefs we've sunk," said Howie Robins of the Artificial Reef Society, which is organizing the sinking.

When she was commissioned in 1964, HMCS Annapolis was considered the most modern of Canada's fleet. She was the last of the West Coast steam turbine, helicopter-carrying destroyer escorts.

In 1989, Annapolis was transferred from Halifax to Esquimalt, where it joined the Pacific Fleet.

"She was a fast, very sea-worthy, very sea-kindly ship," said Lt. Commander Ray Stacey (Ret.), who served on Annapolis during the 1990s.

She was put in dry-dock after 1998. Now, her name is barely visible, and rust is forming on the hull. But Stacey believes there is life in her yet.

"You can feel her as we stand here now, wanting to get on with it, wanting to serve again," he said.

She will -- under water. Annapolis will find a new home at the bottom of Howe Sound near Vancouver.

The Artificial Reef Society has sunk more ships than any other similar organization in the world. In September 2006, it immersed the first intact passenger jet.

It will take minutes to sink her, but seven months to get the ship ready. Holes need to be created for divers, and the vessel must be cleaned of all pollutants.

"There's various stages in preparing the ship, not just for the environments but also for safe scuba diving," said Robins.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander