Coast Guardsmen, survivors, family members, and community members from around the Tampa Bay area commemorated the 34th anniversary of the Coast Guard cutter Blackthorn tragedy last week at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg.
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 Coast Guard's worst peacetime disaster. A memorial inscribed with the names of the crewmembers that perished now stands two miles north of the collision site.
The Blackthorn collision provided the impetus for the establishment of the Command and Operations School at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. The school offers courses to prepare command-level officers and senior enlisted members for command duty afloat.