U.S. Navy divers have completed the removal of fuel oil from the capsized World War II German cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Marshall Islands.
The divers were attached to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 1 aboard the USNS Salvor, and extracted approximately 250,000 gallons (946,353 liters) of fuel oil between September 1st and October 15th.
The whole operation involved nearly two-dozen divers along with support from the commercial tanker Humber, which transported the removed fuel oil.
Lt. Cmdr. Tim Emge, officer-in-charge of salvage operations, said:
“There are no longer active leaks with 97 percent of the oil having been removed. The remaining oil is enclosed in a few internal tanks without leakage and encased by layered protection. Of the 173 total oil tanks, the 143 external tanks have been pumped of all appreciable amount of oil.”
The Prinz Eugen was used in combat during World War II, and after the war was surrendered to the British and subsequently transferred to the U.S. Navy for use in Operation Crossroads nuclear tests. After surviving two tests and subsequent towage to Kwajalein Atoll, the vessel began to take on water due to sea valve and rudder damage and ran aground, settling in a capsized position off the coast of Enubuj Island.
Stephanie Bocek, project manager at the Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, said:
“Our team’s hard work over the last two years preparing for this project and assembling the right combination of equipment and technical expertise enabled our success in this very important mission to protect the pristine waters of Kwajalein Atoll from the risk of a catastrophic oil release.”
To get more details about the operation, check out the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet website.