USCGC Blackthorn - St. Petersburg, FL.
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member DangerousDale
N 27° 38.916 W 082° 40.564
17R E 334659 N 3059399
Quick Description: In the evening hours of 28 January 1980, Blackthorn collided with the tanker, Capricorn, resulting in death of twenty-three servicemen, and to this day remains the worst peacetime loss of life in Coast Guard history.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 8/10/2007 10:10:59 PM
Waymark Code: WM1ZR6
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 157

Long Description:
Having just completed her overhaul, Blackthorn was outward bound from Tampa Bay on the night of 28 January 1980. Meanwhile the tanker Capricorn was standing into the bay. The captain, LCDR George Sepel was on the bridge, but ENS John Ryan had the conn. Having been overtaken by the Russian passenger ship Kazakhstan, Blackthorn continued almost in mid-channel. The brightly lit passenger vessel obscured the ability of the crews of Blackthorn and Capricorn to see each other. Capricorn began to turn left, but this would not allow the ships to pass port-to-port. Unable to make radio contact with the tender, Capricorn’s pilot blew two short whistle blasts to have the ships pass starboard-to-starboard. With the officer of the deck confused in regard to the standard operating procedure, Blackthorn’s captain issued orders for evasive action.

Though the ships collided, damage did not seem to be extensive. The problem, however, was that Capricorn’s anchor was ready for letting go. It became imbedded in the tender's hull and ripped open the port side. Just seconds after the slack in the anchor chain became taut, Blackthorn capsized. Six off-duty personnel who had mustered when they heard the collision alarm were trapped in the dark. Several crew members who had just reported aboard tried to escape and in the process trapped themselves in the engine room. Though 27 crewmen survived the collision, 23 perished.

In the end the primary responsibility for the collision was placed with LCDR Sepel as he had permitted an inexperienced junior officer to conn the ship in an unfamiliar waterway with heavy traffic. The Blackthorn was salvaged for the investigation and was then taken out into the Gulf of Mexico and sunk as an artificial reef.

Disaster Date: 01/28/1980

Date of dedication: 01/28/1981

Memorial Sponsors: The Florida Legislature

Disaster Type: Technological

Parking Coordinates: Not Listed

Relevant Website: Not listed

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NCDaywalker visited USCGC Blackthorn - St. Petersburg, FL. 5/3/2014 NCDaywalker visited it
Nov64 visited USCGC Blackthorn - St. Petersburg, FL. 7/30/2012 Nov64 visited it
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ChapterhouseInc visited USCGC Blackthorn - St. Petersburg, FL. 9/3/2007 ChapterhouseInc visited it
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