Almost seven decades after a U.S. military transport ship sank to the ocean floor off the north coast of British Columbia, the Canadian Coast Guard has received approval to remove bunker oil and other potentially hazardous materials from the Second World War-era vessel.
The maritime safety agency issued a request for proposals on Friday for a contractor to tap into the rotting hull of the Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski where it lies 100 kilometres south of Prince Rupert, B.C., burping oil to the surface.
“This was a vessel that was lost, ran aground and sank. It was one of those dark and stormy nights in 1946,” said Roger Girouard, assistant commissioner of the western region for the coast guard.
The Zalinski was transporting ammunition and equipment to Alaska at the outset of the Cold War. The location of the wreck was consigned to history.
“There she sat for several decades,” Girouard said.
It lies under 34 metres of water, on the edge of a cliff in the Grenville Channel, a narrow and scenic waterway that sees as many as a half dozen ferries and cruise ships a day in the summer and countless commercial fishing vessels.
Reports said no crew members died when the ship went down in a blinding rain storm, and the wreck remained out of sight and out of mind until an oil slick was reported to the coast guard in 2003.
The agency located the source of the oil using an underwater remote-controlled vehicle, and later divers retrieved the ship’s bell to confirm her identity.