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Coast Guard to assess sunken WWII tanker off Long Island

Officials say they want to “determine any potential environmental threat” from the shipwrecked Coimbra, which sits roughly 30 miles southeast of Shinnecock Inlet.

The Coast Guard wants to assess the condition

The Coast Guard wants to assess the condition of the Allied tanker Coimbra, which was shipwrecked after being torpedoed during World War II. Photo Credit: U. S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to oversee a nine-day deep dive environmental review of a famous British steam tanker torpedoed by a German U-boat and left undersea 76 years ago.

The Coast Guard wants to assess the condition of the Allied tanker Coimbra, which was shipwrecked after being torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II, settling on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean roughly 30 miles southeast of Shinnecock Inlet.

The inspection by Florida-based Resolve Marine salvage company will take place June 19 through 27, according to a Coast Guard news release.

“This assessment will help determine any potential environmental threat the tanker poses,” Capt. Kevin Reed, commander of Sector Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, said in a statement. “Our top priorities are the safety of the public and protection of the marine environment.”

Lt. Alaina Fagan, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard, told Newsday that the Coast Guard began receiving periodic satellite reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since 2016 showing “oil anomalies” near the tanker.

Fagan said the Coast Guard had to wait for summerlike conditions to conduct the investigation, when waters are typically less choppy. Determining what to do with the vessel next will all depend on what the team finds, according to Fagan.

The Resolve Marine salvage company specializes in removing tankers buried at sea, according to its website. The company will get consultation assistance from the Navy Supervisor of Salvage, the Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, NOAA, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation during the review, Reed said.

The Coast Guard is warning boaters to avoid the area for a while as crews investigate the relic ship.

When the tanker sank in 1942, it was carrying more than 8,000 tons of fuel. It set off from Bayonne, New Jersey, and was heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ten out of the 46 crew members survived the explosion.

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