ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - On January 28, 1980, the Coast Guard buoy tender Blackthorn passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the black of night. But just west of the bridge’s twin spans at the mouth of Tampa Bay, the Blackthorn collided with the freighter Capricorn.
The Blackthorn sank, taking 23 crewmen with her. Twenty-seven others managed to escape.
The 180-foot ship was raised for an investigation, but later scuttled in the Gulf of Mexico. She now serves as an artificial reef for recreational diving and fishing.
Memorial services are held annually for what the Coast Guard calls the “worst peacetime disaster” in the service’s history.