Removal of oil from Zalinski wreck
Rediscovery and salvage of US Army transport vessel
The U.S. Army Transport Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski served as a general cargo ship for the War Department from 1941 until it sank on 26 September 1946 in the Grenville Channel of British Columbia’s Inside Passage. The 251-foot ship was built in 1919 in Lorain, Ohio as SS Lake Frohna. It changed hands in 1924 and was renamed SS Ace, a name it retained until acquired by the government as World War II began. Then it was named in honor of Brigadier General Moses Gray Zalinski (1863-1937), formerly the Assistant Quartermaster General of the Army and recipient of the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his achievements during World War I. At the time of its sinking, the USAT was carrying a cargo of Army supplies from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska. The cargo included at least twelve 500-pound bombs and large amounts of .30 and .50 caliber ammunition. It also carried at least 700 tons of bunker oil. The vessel sank within twenty minutes of hitting the rocks of Pitt Island during heavy weather, but the crew of 48 was rescued by passing vessels. The casualty was largely forgotten until 2003, when reports of oil slicks in the area were received and no source could be identified. Underwater surveys on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard located the Zalinski wreck resting upside down on a steep submerged cliff in 90 feet of water. Further investigation revealed that the hull was deteriorating, raising fears of a large release of bunker oil. Salvors were hired. Utilizing “hot taps”, they drilled into the lower portion of the fuel tank and pumped in hot water. The hot water lowered the viscosity of the fuel oil, allowing the oil to flow into a second pipe that had been inserted into a higher part of the fuel tank. The salvage operation was completed in March 2014. The bombs and ammunition that had been carried on board were not disturbed.