Coast Guard Remembers the Blackthorn
The Coast Guard cutter Blackthorn sank after colliding with the tanker Capricorn near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Jan. 28, 1980. The Blackthorn lost 23 of its 50 crewmembers in the worst peacetime disaster in Coast Guard history.
ST. PETERSBURG – Crewmembers from the U.S. Coast Guard, survivors, family members, and community members from around the Tampa Bay area commemorated the 38th anniversary of the Blackthorn tragedy at Liberty Baptist Church on Sunday (Jan. 28).
The ceremony consisted of remarks by Adm. Peter Brown, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, the posting of the Colors, and reading of the lost crewmembers’ names, each commemorated by the placing of a rose.
The Blackthorn sank after colliding with the tanker Capricorn near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Jan. 28, 1980. The Blackthorn lost 23 of its 50 crewmembers in the worst peacetime disaster in Coast Guard history. A memorial inscribed with the names of the crewmembers who perished now stands two miles north of the collision site.
“Although this is a sad occasion, as we mourn the loss of nearly half the Blackthorn‘s crew that night, it is also an encouraging moment when we think about how much the Coast Guard has advanced since then, and we can be assured that the service and sacrifice of Blackthorn’s officers and crew was not in vain,” Brown said.
The Blackthorn collision provided the impetus for the establishment of the Command and Operations School at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. The school offers courses to prepare command-level officers and senior enlisted members for command duty afloat. Additionally, the Coast Guard developed new training requirements, spent more money on safety equipment and made changes to the navigational aids in and around Tampa Bay.
Photos courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard. Main photo shows a crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby salute after presenting a rose during a ceremony for the 38th anniversary of the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn tragedy.
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