PORTTOWNSEND, Wash. -- Who wold have thought that 90 years after it sank to the bottom of Puget Sound, a luxury passenger liner could help prevent a major environmental disaster?

Certainly not the 240 people on board the S.S. Governor that was struck by a freighter just after midnight April 1, 1921 off the coast of Port Townsend. They were busy getting all but eight people safely off the sinking ship.

Since then, the wreck has been visited by some deep sea diving crews and others, but this week it is being explored by OceanGate, an Everett company that has found a niche mapping and videotaping sunken vessels that pose ecological threats.

The crew is practicing on the Governor in 240 feet of water to prepare for a much more dangerous mission on a sunken oil tanker off the coast of California. The S.S. Montebello was torpedoed by a Japanese sub during World War II. Now the estimated 70,000 barrels of oil on board pose a serious threat to the California coastline.

OceanGate will take its research sub Antipodes and cutting edge 3-D imaging equipment, made by the Blue View Technology Company of Seattle, to California to provide a detailed image of the Montebello. Those images could help determine a recovery plan for the oil trapped below.

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