After noticing indications of oil slicks on satellite images since 2015, the Coast Guard this spring confirmed a “pin-hole” leak in the sunken wreck of the British supply tanker Coimbra. The 423-foot vessel was carrying 81,000 barrels of fuel oil when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 180-foot depths roughly 30 miles southeast of Shinnecock Inlet in January, 1942.

A favorite destination of offshore anglers seeking tuna, shark, cod and other species these days, the wreck had been leaking small amounts of oil in recent years. Although the leak wasn’t substantial it did need to be addressed.

Working with contractors, the Coast Guard began an assessment and removal process in May. Dive teams sampled at least some oil in eight different storage tanks, but the total amount remained undetermined as the removal process began. While the work was underway anglers and boaters were required to stay 500 yards from the wreck coordinates.

Three months later, the oil removal is complete and anglers can resume fishing tight to the sunken ship. A unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation oversaw the response, which was supported by over 100 government, industry and environmental specialists.

“Each agency involved during the planning, assessment and recovery stages of the response played a critical role,” said Capt. Kevin Reed, the Coast Guard incident commander, in a recent press release. “Our federal, state, local and commercial partners and response crews ensured a safe, efficient and productive operation. We applaud their diligence and tremendous work.”

Indeed, this is a completed project worth acknowledging. What a relief to see such a problem tackled before it could become a marine disaster. As it turned out, there were 450,000 gallons of oil still in the tanker, 99-percent of which was removed and secured for disposal by contractor Resolve Marine.

“The amount (of oil) remaining in the vessel is very small and any sheening poses minimal risk to the local environment and no risk to the shoreline,” said Steve Lehmann, senior scientific coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any further potential environmental impact will be monitored by NOAA and the Coast Guard.

Mariners are encouraged to call the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 with any reports of pollution in the area.

Fluke fishing improves

Keeper fluke have made a slight resurgence in recent days out of Montauk, Huntington and Moriches Bay, with the best action on either side of high tide.

“We’ve seen a bunch of 4- to 8-pound fish in 65- to 95-foot depths,” said Capt. Marco DeStefano of Krystyna Maria Fishing, Montauk. “White bucktails tipped with pink pearl Gulp! have been the best offering.”

On the North Shore, Capt. Capt. Jimmy Schneider of the James Joseph Fleet put nine-year old Leah Carmichael on a 10-pound doormat on Monday. His fares have seen over 20 shorts apiece with some keepers in the mix.

In the Moriches area, Capt. Joe Tangle of the open boat King Cod has found decent fluke action in and around Moriches Inlet an hour before and hour after high tide. He’s also been working both near-shore and offshore wrecks for ling, sea bass and porgies. “There’s plenty of meat to take home on most trips,” he said.


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