The following is a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard:
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, Tuesday, at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg.
Tuesday's ceremony consisted of an aerial salute by Coast Guard aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, remarks by Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr., commandant of the Coast Guard, posting of the Colors, and reading of the lost crewmembers’ names, each commemorated by the placing of a rose beneath the memorial.
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. 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.