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R. Schwemmer

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THE MONTEBELLO
Montebello On December 23, 1941, two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the oil tanker Montebello was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-21 off the coast of Cambria, California. 38 crewmen rowed away in lifeboats as the sub opened fire at them from its deck gun. They watched as the Montebello sank with its cargo - 3 million gallons of crude oil.
  Montebello
Delta, R/V Cavalier 50 years later, officials at Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary worried that the aging tanker would rupture and cause a major oil spill. In 1996, NOAA's West Coast NURC funded an investigation utilizing the Delta submersible. Directing the project was marine archaeologist Jack Hunter.
Delta launched from the R/V Cavalier, 1996  
Delta Launch At 900 feet, Delta discovered the Montebello, covered in fishing nets and with its hull intact. Hunter concluded that the torpedo had not penetrated the oil storage holds and that the oil was inside, but had congealed.

In 2003, Robert Schwemmer and researchers from Monterey Bay NMS again utilized Delta to monitor the wreck for signs of oil leakage or hull degradation and to assess biological changes.
  Delta submersible - photo R. Schwemmer
Propeller The Delta dives established that the Montebello does not pose an immediate risk to the marine environment. In fact, the wreck has become an artificial habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Schwemmer, Robert. "Wreck at 900 Feet Under Water" in Anchor Watch, Newsletter of the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association, Morro Bay, California, 1997.

National Marine Sanctuaries
Abstract 2003
bonita.mbnms.nos.noaa.gov/sac
/2003/120503/120303hires5.pdf
Propeller with white plume anemones 
photo R. Schwemmer  

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