Resolve Marine Group along with the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently completed their effort to mitigate pollution risk from the sunken WWII-era tanker Coimbra. About 450,000 gallons of petroleum was recovered from the wreck since May, which is about 99 percent of the oil that was remaining on board the sunken vessel.
“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. “Our federal, state, local and commercial partners and response crews ensured a safe, efficient and productive operation.”
The oil aboard the Coimbra posed a hidden threat to Long Island’s fisheries and beaches. If those tanks were ever breached, the area would have an environmental disaster on their hands. The vessel sans oil is still in place at a site about 30 miles off the coast of Shinnecock, New York. She now serves as an asset for tourism rather than an environmental risk. “The Coimbra now complements New York’s growing network of artificial reefs, which serve as an economic driver for the region’s diving and fishing industries,” Seggos said.
The WWII-era Coimbrawas one of the many merchant vessels lost off the U.S. East Coast. On January 14, 1942, the 6,800-ton Coimbraleft port from New York with a cargo of 64,000 barrels of lubricating oil. The following morning, she encountered the German submarine U-123 at a position 28 nm off the coast of Long Island. At 0940 hours, the sub’s crew fired one torpedo, which struck the tanker on the starboard side, resulting in an explosion and fire. A second torpedo struck her below the funnel at 0959, and she broke up quickly, losing 36 of her 46 crewmembers. She came to rest on the bottom in three sections, with the mid ships segment partially buried.
More than 77 years later, an environmental risk has been abated by the removal of her oil and the northeastern shores have gained an artificial reef.