‘Perfect Storm’ Coast Guard cutter sunk off Cape May

first_img May 11, 2017 Authorities One of U.S. Coast Guard’s most famous vessels, the “Perfect Storm” cutter Tamaroa, will now have a new role after being sunk off Cape May on Wednesday.The ship is to become part of an artificial reef located 26 nautical miles southeast of Cape May and comprised of old military ships that is enhancing fishing opportunities off New Jersey and Delaware.The 205-foot vessel rose to fame after her daring rescues during a brutal 1991 East Coast storm. Formerly known as the Navy fleet tug Zuni, Tamaroa was featured in the bestselling book The Perfect Storm and the movie of the same name.During her Navy life, Tamaroa supported landings by the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima. According to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, it is believed to be the last surviving vessel that directly supported those operations.“We are proud to partner with Delaware in making this deployment a reality and giving this venerable vessel a chance at continued service, this time of a different nature,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “Anglers of all ages will now be able to visit this spot for many years to come to enjoy the varied marine life this ship will attract. Sport divers will also have a unique opportunity to explore the Tamaroa’s decks, bulwarks and passageways, perhaps soaking in the ship’s storied history in the process.”The cutter was deployed in water more than 120 feet deep after patches were removed from holes that were pre-cut into its hull. The Zuni/Tamaroa joined the former Army freighter and Navy support ship Shearwater, the minesweeper Gregory Poole, and the 563-foot destroyer U.S.S. Arthur W. Radford, the largest vessel ever deployed off the East Coast. The reef, established 10 years ago specifically for former military vessels, is jointly managed by New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.For much of its Coast Guard career, the Tamaroa served out of New York City, and toward the end of its service it was based in New Castle, N.H. Its Coast Guard roles included fisheries enforcement, drug interdiction, immigration enforcement and ice patrols in locations as far-afield as the Caribbean, the Straits of Florida and the vast North Atlantic fishing ground of Georges Bank.Over its nearly five-decade Coast Guard career, the Tamaroa, also known as the Tam, responded to numerous sinking and disabled fishing and pleasure boats, took part in the rescue of passengers from a sinking ocean liner, recovered bodies from an airliner that crashed off the coast of New Jersey, rescued hundreds of Haitian migrants from overloaded boats, saved the crew of a storm-battered Soviet freighter, and intercepted drug runners and smugglers.But the Tamaroa gained fame for its rescue efforts during the 1991 Halloween Storm – a rare convergence of a hurricane and a massive low pressure system from Canada – that battered the East Coast and was chronicled in Sebastian Junger’s bestselling book, The Perfect Storm, made into a hit movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.The Tamaroa first assisted in the rescue of three people from a sailboat caught in the storm. Then, battling massive swells and making eight separate approaches, the vessel rescued four of five crew members from an Air National Guard rescue helicopter that ran out of fuel and had to ditch 90 nautical miles south of Montauk, Long Island. The fifth member was lost at sea. The Tamaroa and its crew received Coast Guard commendations for the missions.Plans to restore the Tamaroa as a museum were scuttled due to its advanced age that made work very costly and unfeasible. The Zuni/Tamaroa was prepared for reef deployment in Norfolk, Va., where the vessel underwent environmental preparation. Interior paneling and insulation were removed and the ship was thoroughly cleaned of fuel and hydraulic fluids. The ship’s environmental tests were approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The vessel also met Coast Guard standards for sinking as an artificial reef.The Coast Guard retired the Tamaroa in 1994, and donated the vessel to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson River in New York City. A former crewman started a group to restore the vessel. Work was under way in Virginia when a 2011 storm flooded the Tamaroa’s engine room. Its hull also showed numerous signs of failure, making restoration impossible.Delaware paid for the bulk of the acquisition of the cutter, preparation and sinking, assisted by the DEP, which received funding from the Ann E. Clarke Foundation and the Sportfishing Fund. Share this article ‘Perfect Storm’ Coast Guard cutter sunk to become part of artificial reefcenter_img View post tag: US Coast Guard View post tag: USCGC Tamaroa Back to overview,Home naval-today ‘Perfect Storm’ Coast Guard cutter sunk to become part of artificial reef last_img read more