Coast Guard holds annual Blackthorn memorial service in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — 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 aircraft from Coast Guard 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.

Chief Petty Officer Casey Wardynski, a crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores,  a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homported in at Base Miami Beach, Fla., prepares to place a rose on the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn Memorial during the 34th anniversary memorial service of the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn collision at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. The Blackthorn sank after colliding with the tanker Capricorn near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Jan. 28, 1980. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse.

Chief Petty Officer Casey Wardynski, a crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores, prepares to place a rose on the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn Memorial during the 34th anniversary memorial service of the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn collision at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse.

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 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.

Click the photo for more pictures.

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One Comment

  1. Kathleen Ressler says:

    Thank you again for having the Memorial Service. The family of Jerry Ressler, one of those who died do all appreciate it. I am just sorry I cannot be there every year.