Remotely operated vehicles check wreck for oil

Posted by Christine, October 7, 2011

Starting October 5, a series of dives by a remotely operated vehicle may definitively determine the ecological threat posed by the S.S. Montebello, a World War II-era oil tanker that lies seven miles offshore from Cambria.

The Coast Guard and state Department of Fish and Game have hired Seattle-based Global Diving and Salvage Inc. to use an innovative technique called hot tapping to take samples from the wreck’s 18 oil storage compartments.

The operation is expected to last 10 days and poses some unprecedented challenges due to the depth of the wreck — 900 feet — and the amount of oil it contains — 3 million gallons, said state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, who has urged state and federal officials to investigate the wreck.

The illustration is a painting, The Sinking of the SS Montebello, by George H. Cooper.