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Divers to test sunken WWII oil tanker off California coast

September 29, 2011 |  2:33 pm

The U.S. Coast Guard has hired a diving firm to help it determine whether oil is present aboard a WWII tanker sunken off the California coast.

The S.S. Montebello was sunk a few miles off the coast of Cambria, north of San Luis Obispo, on Dec. 23, 1941. It remains there, 900 feet below the surface, according to a Coast Guard statement.

Several dives over the last 15 years have found no signs of leakage from the ship’s hull.

“The California coast is a vital national resource,” said Coast Guard Capt. Roger Laferriere. “It is our duty to ensure we gain good information about the Montebello so we can do our best to protect the marine environment.”

The Seattle-based diving firm, Global Diving and Salvage, will attempt to retrieve oil and sediment samples in dives that begin in mid-October, when weather is best along that stretch of coastline.


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 -- Sam Quinones