U. S. Army Air Corps photographs of the burning tanker Potrero del Llano in May 1942. Knowing where sunken vessels are located helps oil response planning efforts and may help in the investigation of reported mystery spills—sightings of oil where a source is not immediately known or suspected. Credit: National Archives
This week, NOAA presented to the U.S. Coast Guard a new report that finds that 36 sunken vessels scattered across the U.S. sea floor could pose an oil pollution threat to the nation’s coastal marine resources. Of those, 17 were recommended for further assessment and potential removal of both fuel oil and oil cargo.
The sunken vessels are a legacy of more than a century of U.S. commerce and warfare. They include a barge lost in rough seas in 1936; two motor-powered ships that sank in separate collisions in 1947 and 1952; and a tanker that exploded and sank in 1984. The remaining sites are 13 merchant marine ships lost during World War II, primarily along the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.
The report identifies the location and nature of potential sources of oil pollution from sunken vessels. Knowing where these vessels are helps oil response planning efforts and may help in the investigation of reported mystery spills—sightings of oil where a source is not immediately known or suspected.