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Preventing Marine Pollution through a Historic Shipwreck Database

Posted Fri, 10/01/2021 - 14:29
By Doug Helton, Office of Response and Restoration

Prevention efforts have reduced recent ship sinkings, but what about the thousands of historical shipwrecks in U.S. waters?  Many of these sit out of sight, damaged, collapsed onto the seabed—some threatening to leak their oil cargo or fuel. Is there a way to prevent spills from ships that have already sunk? Improvements in underwater technologies now allow salvage companies to safely conduct oil removal operations from sunken ships, but where to start? 

NOAA Contributes to U.S. Coast Guard Mission to Recover Oil from Sunken WWII Vessel

Posted Mon, 09/13/2021 - 17:15
By Vicki Loe, Doug Helton, and Lisa Symons, Office of Response and Restoration

At about 1:30 a.m.on Tuesday, May 5, 1942,  the American Steam Tanker Munger T. Ball, en route to Norfolk, Virginia, from Port Arthur, Texas, with a cargo of 65,000 gallons of gasoline was hit twice by torpedoes and machine gun fire from the German U-507 about 80 miles northwest of Key West, Florida. The first hit caused the tanker to burst into flames, preventing the crews’ ability to launch lifeboats, leaving 30 dead and four survivors who were able to swim away from the burning vessel and be rescued four hours later. The vessel sank within 15 minutes of the second hit.

Oily Killer of the Deep: the Mystery Oil Spill of San Mateo

Posted Fri, 10/30/2020 - 15:02
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

It was a dark and stormy night. A salty wind blew like ice and waves thundered beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as a storm broke on San Francisco. As the city slept, something sinister rose from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. In the morning the sea calmed and people resumed their daily habits. For awhile it seemed as if nothing were amiss — until the dead started to wash up on shore.

How the Ghosts of Shipwrecks Past Continue to Haunt U.S. Waters

Posted Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:18
By Ellen Ramirez, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, and Alyssa Gray, Office of Response and Restoration

OCT. 31, 2018 — Deep under the surface of U.S. waters, lying in wait to strike, is an environmental threat the size of an army. This army — while deadly and toxic in its own right — is not made up of soldiers and weapons, but rather of vessels from long ago, now derelict and forgotten.

At the U.S.-Canadian Border, Surveying a World War II Shipwreck for History and Oil

Posted Thu, 06/02/2016 - 18:35

On June 2, 2016, an underwater survey team is looking at what they believe to be the wreck of the 324-foot-long Coast Trader, a U.S. Army-chartered freight ship sunk somewhere off the Washington coast during World War II. The shipwreck being surveyed is located near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca just across the border of Washington state and British Columbia in Canadian waters.