Famed “Perfect Storm” Rescue Ship To Be Sunk Off Of Lewes

Dover – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the Zuni/Tamaroa, a World War II-era ship with a famed history at sea that continued into the 1990s, has been cleared by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Coast Guard for sinking onto the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Artificial Reef. Zuni/Tamaroa will be jointly sunk by the two states in the near future approximately 26 nautical miles from both Lewes and Cape May, N.J.

The USS Zuni, the only ship remaining from the Battle of Iwo Jima, was initially decommissioned by the Navy in 1946. The ship was later re-commissioned as the Tamaroa and assigned to the Coast Guard Station in New Castle, N.H., where it was used as a search and rescue cutter.

The Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa was made famous in Sebastian Junger’s book “The Perfect Storm”, later made into a movie. During that 1991 “Perfect Storm” the cutter, then based in New Castle, N.H., helped to rescue three people from a sinking boat and the crew of a military helicopter that had crashed.

Both the EPA and Coast Guard recently inspected Zuni/Tamaroa at the Norfolk, Va. shipyard of contractor Coleen Marine. Extensive environmental preparation for reefing the 74-year-old vessel included removing interior paneling and insulation, and emptying and cleaning the vessel of all fuel and fluids. USCG approved the ship as fit for reefing on the Del-Jersey-Land site, which comprises military ships including the destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford, the longest ship reefed on the Atlantic Coast; the minesweeper Gregory Poole, and the Shearwater, which was in service for both the US Army as a freighter and the Navy as a support ship.

Jeff Tinsman, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife reef program coordinator, said plans call for Zuni/Tamaroa to be reefed when a weather window of 48-72 hours for calmer seas allows for the ship to be towed up the coast and to the reef site. “We are certain that it will happen sooner rather than later,” he said. “Optimally, it would be right after the Easter holiday weekend. If that scheduling holds, anglers and divers should be working the Zuni/Tamaroa for recreational opportunities that she presents almost immediately.”

DNREC is the lead agency on the Zuni/Tamaroa reefing project, providing 75 percent of the funding from The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. New Jersey is providing 25 percent matching funds from The Fisherman Magazine’s Sportfishing Fund.

Image Credits: Coast Guard

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