Coast Guard ends 40-day response to Munger T. Ball near Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard Sector Key West Incident Management Team concluded a 40-day coordinated response effort to mitigate the pollution threat from the tanker Munger T. Ball wreck, 70 miles northwest of Key West, Florida, Friday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Coast Guard monitored the wreck site for years. In 2019, following an uptick in confirmed sheening in the area, Coast Guard Capt. Adam Chamie, the Federal on Scene Coordinator (FOSC), determined the site posed a potential threat to the environment.

A response team was established to advise the FOSC, comprised of members from the Coast Guard’s National Strike Force, the District 7 Response Advisory Team, the Office Environmental Management, and Salvage Engineering Response Team, the Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, NOAA, the Maritime Administration, the lead contractor Resolve Marine Group, more than 15 subcontractors, along with the offshore supply vessel the Shelia Bordelon. The Coast Guard’s National Strike Force is comprised of highly trained, experienced personnel and specialized equipment to facilitate preparedness for and respond to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents. The District 7 Response Advisory Team is a group of highly-skilled personnel with experience in spill management, response equipment, and response techniques, whose main responsibility is to provide support to the FOSC.

The operation began June 9. It was not until an assessment commenced that the tanker Munger T. Ball was first identified at the site. After a marine archeological study during the assessment, it was determined that the Ball had been misidentified as the tanker Joseph M. Cudahy, for nearly 80 years. Using divers and remote operated vehicle technology, Resolve Marine Group and the Coast Guard Strike Team aboard Shelia Bordelon confirmed oil was seeping from the Munger T. Ball and was intermittently causing sheening in the area.

“Despite facing many challenges, our crews wrapped up a very successful and historical response to the tanker Munger T. Ball and I could not be more proud,” said Capt. Adam Chamie, Coast Guard Munger T. Ball, Federal on Scene Coordinator. “Coast Guard members deployed from across the nation and integrated seamlessly with our agency partners and private marine contractors to safely and efficiently remove oil from the ship while also paying respects to those who laid down their life for their country.”

More than 35,000 gallons of heavy oil product was safely removed from the Munger T. Ball. There were 30 Coast Guard responders whose combined efforts totaled an estimated 28,800 work hours. Members managed logistics, resources, and oversaw contracting operations and held a memorial for the crew aboard the Munger T. Ball who lost their lives.

Any additional pollution incidents should be reported to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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