Coast Guard to hold annual Blackthorn memorial service

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Coast Guardsmen salutes the Blackthorn Memorial after placing a wreath at the base during the annual memorial held on Jan. 28 in St. Petersburg, Fla. USCG photo by PA3 Robert L. Suddarth

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to hold a memorial service Friday in remembrance of the lives lost during the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn collision.

The 37th anniversary memorial ceremony will consist of an aerial salute by aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, posting of the colors and a reading of all the lost crew members’ names.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. at Blackthorn Memorial Park, off Interstate 275, North of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn sank following a collision with the tanker vessel Capricorn near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Jan. 28, 1980. The Blackthorn lost 23 of its 50 crew members in what became the Coast Guard’s worst peacetime disaster. A memorial inscribed with the names of the crew members who 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, Connecticut. 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, invested in more safety equipment and made changes to the navigational aids in and around Tampa Bay.


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