Divers hope to prevent oil spill

Submerged World War II tanker could leak 3 million gallons of oil

In an effort to prevent a possible ecological disaster, a team of divers launched a mission to the bottom of the ocean off central California’s coast where the S.S. Montebello—a World War II-era oil tanker sunk by a Japanese submarine shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor—remains about 900 feet below the surface, according to media sources.

The divers’ mission—which began Oct. 12 and may take up to 12 days—is to determine how much of the ship’s original 3 million gallons of crude oil remain in the tanker’s holds, and how best to prevent the oil from leaking.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Adam Eggers said it’s likely that oil remains onboard the ship, but he doesn’t know what form it will take. “No one knows what 70-year-old oil does,” Eggers said. “It’s 40 degrees down there. Is it going rise to the surface, warm up and liquefy, or is it going to be a rock?”