USCG cutter 'Tampa' honored with mural

- The line Titanic famously hit an iceberg in 1912. Shortly after that disaster, the governor dispatched the cutter Tampa to patrol for ice in the North Atlantic.

When World War I broke out, the Tampa was assigned to escort British supply ships.

But then a torpedo from a German U-boat sent the Tampa to the bottom. All 131 sailors, including more the 20 from Tampa died in the tragedy -- the worst naval loss of the war.

In Tampa, where the cutter participated for years in the Gasparilla celebrations, flags were flown at half-staff for a month. 

"But then came the Great Depression and World War II and it was just forgotten," said local historian and writer Robin Gonzalez.

She became involved in an effort to make sure the Tampa is remembered. The Hillsborough County Public Art Program is paying $75,000 for a large mural of the ship on an exterior wall of the Tampa Bay History Center.

The mural will show the cutter and its sailors in a number of historical scenes.

"It's going to bring people to the History Center, off the Riverwalk and off Channelside and Water Street," said Grant Martin of the Tampa Bay History Center.

Gonzalez wrote a book about the vessel that will be made available to all 11th graders in Hillsborough County schools.

"It will never be forgotten again. The story will be there forever," Gonzalez pledged.

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