Responders complete oil recovery from WWII shipwreck off New York

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — Oil recovery operations on the World War II-era shipwreck Coimbra are nearing completion after commencing on May 1 off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. A unified command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation oversaw the response supported by more than 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. “Our federal, state, local and commercial partners and response crews ensured a safe, efficient and productive operation. We applaud their diligence and tremendous work.”

“DEC thanks the Coast Guard for collaborating with New York state throughout this large-scale oil recovery operation," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The 450,000 gallons removed from the Coimbra over the last three months were a hidden threat to the health of Long Island’s marine fishery and the South Shore’s environment and now the potential impact has been abated. 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.”

The wreck will remain in place 30 miles offshore of Shinnecock, N.Y. As much as 99 percent of the recoverable oil was removed and secured for disposal by Resolve Marine. “The amount 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.

Coimbra was a supply ship owned by Great Britain that was sunk off the coast of Long Island during World War II by a German U-boat. Initial dive operations in May 2019 confirmed the tanker was leaking small amounts of oil.

By Professional Mariner Staff