OFF N.C. COAST -

Experts say there are at least 13 ships sunk off the North Carolina coast that could leak oil.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported (http://bit.ly/WR4f3Z) those 13 ships are among hundreds of wrecks off the North Carolina coast.

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the ships sunk during World War II are a pollution threat because of the oil still on the vessels.

A company hired by the Coast Guard has worked to stop the leak on one of the old tankers sunk by a German submarine in 1942.

But Lee Sykes with Atlantic Coast Marine Group says the work was probably just a temporary fix. Sykes says the hull is rusting and officials must decide whether to patch the holes or pump the oil out.

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U.S. Coast Guardsmen say a World War II shipwreck off the NC coast has been leaking oil into the ocean.

According to Lieutenant Lane Munroe, discoloration was noticed in the water last week at a recreational diving area about 45 miles offshore.  A dive team spotted a finger-sized hole in the "W.E. Hutton." 

The "W.E. Hutton" was an oil tanker built in 1920 and was 453 feet long.  It was traveling from Texas to Pennsylvania with 65,000 barrels of heating oil onboard when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1942.

Lieutenant Lane Munroe says the hole was repaired on Monday to stop the leak. It's unclear how much oil spilled into the ocean.