Boaters are being advised to keep a safe distance as the U.S. Coast Guard assesses oil remaining on a World War II oil tanker, the Coimbra, which sank 30 miles off the coast of Shinnecock Inlet more than 70 years ago.
The Coimbra was a supply ship built in 1937 and owned by Great Britain. The tanker sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1942. The spot is said to be popular among local fishermen.
The Coast Guard has contracted Resolve Marine Group, a Florida-based salvage and emergency response company that specializes in removing tankers buried at sea, to conduct a five-week-long assessment of oil remaining in the wreck.
If substantial oil remains, and if feasible, the Coast Guard will work with Resolve Marine Group to remove the oil from the wreck in order to reduce pollution risks, a press release from the Coast Guard said on Saturday.
The operation was scheduled to start Sunday and to end on May 30. The initial evaluation will assess the condition of the tanker and what potential environmental impact still exists. Based on the assessment, oil removal possibly could take place.
Boaters are requested to keep a safe distance of 500 yards from the dive operation.
“We have assembled a team including members of the Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Coast Guard District One Response Advisory Team, Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Environmental Management, and Coast Guard Salvage Engineering Response Team to provide consultation for this assessment,” said Captain Kevin Reed, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, in a statement earlier this week.
“This assessment will help determine and possibly remove any potential environmental threat the tanker poses. Our top priorities are safety of the public and protection of the marine environment.”