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Site Formation Processes and Pollution Risk Mitigation of World War II Oil Tanker Shipwrecks: Coimbra and Munger T. Ball

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Locating and documenting potentially polluting wrecks is essential in determining the risks they pose to causing oil spills as weakening hulls in the marine environment continue to corrode. Expeditions in 2019 and 2021 to two World War II oil tankers, Coimbra and Munger T. Ball, assessed the site formation processes and integrity of the hulls for pollution mitigation. This was followed by remediation that removed large amounts of oil from the tanks accessible on these wrecks. Lessons learned indicate that such approaches to shipwrecks in deeper waters may prove useful to locating wrecks and mitigating future potential spills.

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  1. These were SS Fernstream in San Francisco Bay, which was found to not pose a threat, Coast Trader, offshore of the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island, which was found to not pose a threat, the tank barge Argo in Lake Erie, which was found to pose a threat and was remediated following a leak, USNS San Miguel in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which was found not to pose a threat.


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The authors would like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard and Resolve Marine Group, under whom these expeditions were conducted, the Captain and crew of MV Shelia Bordelon, and the expedition teams.

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M.L.B. wrote the main manuscript. Background research, field analysis, data analysis, and manuscript review was done by J.D., A.J., D.M., and M.B.

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Correspondence to Michael L. Brennan.

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Brennan, M.L., Delgado, J.P., Jozsef, A. et al. Site Formation Processes and Pollution Risk Mitigation of World War II Oil Tanker Shipwrecks: Coimbra and Munger T. Ball. J Mari Arch 18, 321–335 (2023).

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