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Oil leaking from British WWII tanker torpedoed by U-boat

A team has been working to stop oil leaking from a British tanker sunk off the US coast during World War Two.

The Coimbra was carrying more than two million gallons of oil when she was torpedoed in January 1942 by a German U-boat.

She sank about 30 miles off the coast of Long Island, New York, and became one of 148 petrol tankers and other ships sunk by the U-boats near the coast.

Some six gunners and 30 crew were killed.

The Coimbra - a British tanker sunk by a German U-boat off New York in World War Two. Pic: US Coast Guard
Image: The Coimbra was sunk by a German U-boat off New York in World War Two. Pic: US Coast Guard

For many decades, the Coimbra lay 180ft (54m) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

But in 2015 there were reports of what appeared to be an oil sheen in the area.

Experts were able to match the location of the oil sheen with that of the Coimbra wreck.

More from New York

Divers securely drill into and access the oil tanks of the wreck of the British-flagged tanker Coimbra, May 8, 2019. The Coimbra was a supply ship owned by Great Britain when the ship was sunk off the coast of Long Island, during World War II by a German U-boat. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Sector Long Island Sound)
Image: The experts will be working on the wreck for another few weeks. Pic: US Coast Guard

A team from the Coast Guard, Department of Environmental Conservation and private company Resolve Marine, has been at the site since the end of April.

They are assessing the problem and trying to reduce any pollution threats posed by the leak.

Since 11 May, they have pumped more than 62,000 gallons (235,000 litres) of oil from the tanker, according to the US Coast Guard.

This chartlet indicates the location of the Coimbra ship wreck site approximately 30 miles southeast of Shinnecock, N.Y. The Coimbra was a supply ship owned by Great Britain when the ship was sunk off the coast of Long Island, during World War II by a German U-boat. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Image: The Coimbra ship wreck site is 30 miles southeast of Shinnecock, New York. Pic: US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jesse Diaz has worked on the team since 2016 and said the project was “one the most challenging and the most rewarding operations in all of my career”.

He added: “We work through tasks both planned and those that come up unexpectedly.

“This type of work poses challenging situations, and together we make decisions how to move forward.

“We couldn’t do that without the trust earned throughout the team, and the trust from our leadership to do the job we are tasked to complete.”

The group will be working on the wreck for another few weeks.

They will stay at the scene of the wreck until the oil is removed and the tanker is no longer a threat to the ocean it has become a part of.

Source: SKY NEWS

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