USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166)

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USCGC Tamaroa WUEC-166 1990.jpg
USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166) in 1990,
formerly USS Zuni (ATF-95) fleet tug (in 1943).
United States Navy
Name: USS Zuni (ATF-95)
Builder: Commercial Iron Works
Laid down: 8 March 1943
Launched: 31 July 1943
Commissioned: 9 October 1943
Decommissioned: 29 June 1946
Struck: 19 July 1946
Nickname(s): “The Mighty Z”
Fate: Transferred to US Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
  • USCGC Tamaroa (WAT-166)[when?]
  • USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166)
Commissioned: 29 June 1946
Decommissioned: 1 February 1994
Fate: Scuttled 10 May 2017, 33 nautical miles off coast of Cape May, New Jersey
General characteristics
Class and type: Navajo
Displacement: 1,731 long tons (1,759 t)
Length: 205 ft 6 in (62.64 m)
Beam: 39 ft 3.25 in (11.9698 m)
Draft: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Motors model 12-278 diesels with diesel-electric drive: 3,010 shp (2,240 kW)
  • 16.1 kn (29.8 km/h; 18.5 mph) maximum
  • 8.0 kn (14.8 km/h; 9.2 mph) economical
Range: 15,000 nmi (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) (1990)
Complement: 10 officers, 74 enlisted (1990)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar: SPN-25 (1961); no sonar.

USCGC Tamaroa (WAT/WMEC-166), originally the United States Navy Cherokee-class fleet tug USS Zuni (ATF-95), was a United States Coast Guard cutter. Following the U.S. Coast Guard custom of naming cutters in this class of ship after Native American tribes, she was named after the Tamaroa tribe of the Illiniwek tribal group.

Construction and U.S. Navy operational history[edit]

The ship was one of 70 of her class built for the U.S. Navy. As the fleet tug USS Zuni, she saw action in World War II, including in the Marianas, Philippines, and Iwo Jima operations. After the war, she was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1946.

U.S. Coast Guard operational history[edit]

The bulk of Tamaroa′s U.S. Coast Guard career was spent patrolling, working in drug interdiction, and fisheries protection. She was the first Coast Guard cutter to arrive at the sinking ocean liner Andrea Doria in 1956.

Tamaroa was involved in the landmark 1969 tort case, Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States, 398 F.2d 167 (2d Cir. 1968), which held the United States vicariously liable for the damage caused by Tamaroa to a drydock after an intoxicated U.S. Coast Guard seaman returning to his bunk aboard Tamaroa on 14 March 1963 opened drydock water valves, flooding and sinking the drydock and causing Tamaroa to list and slide off her blocks. In its ruling, the court found that an employer (in this case, the United States Government) will be held liable under respondeat superior if the actions of the employee (in this, a U.S. Coast Guard seaman) arise out of the course of his or her employment (in this case, as a U.S. Coast Guard seaman returning to his ship after leave) and cause damage (in this case, to Bushey & Sons′ drydock). The court held that "the ship is liable for anything ship-connected persons cause it to do."[1][2]

Tamaroa is perhaps most famous for a rescue described in the 1997 book The Perfect Storm (by Sebastian Junger) and depicted in the 2000 movie The Perfect Storm; Tamaroa had been attempting to rescue the crew of the sailing vessel Satori the previous day when the cutter was diverted to assist the Air National Guard aircrew, she rescued four out of the five crewmen of a downed New York Air National Guard helicopter. The fifth aircrewman was never found and presumed drowned[3]

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

After the Coast Guard decommissioned her in 1994, Tamaroa was donated to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. She was noticed tied up next to the museum ship Intrepid in 1994 by a former crewman who began a campaign to restore her. After several unsuccessful attempts, the Zuni Maritime Foundation, a non-profit organization in Richmond, Virginia, formed. The foundation attempted to preserve the ship in an operational condition, and use her to educate the public. This ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Having been tied up in Norfolk, Virginia, and environmentally cleaned, she was selected in 2016 for use as an artificial reef. Her sinking, originally scheduled for 30 October 2016, was delayed by rough seas and related issues. She finally was scuttled at 13:00 on 10 May 2017 in the Atlantic Ocean about 33 nautical miles (61 km) from Cape May, New Jersey, to form an artificial reef. Her wreck is now part of the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef.[4][5]




  1. ^ Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States - Casebriefs Bloomberg Law. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States, 398 F.2d 167 (2d Cir. 1968) - Opinion. "While the United States Coast Guard vessel Tamaroa was being overhauled in a floating drydock located in Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, a seaman returning from shore leave late at night, in the condition for which seamen are famed, turned some wheels on the drydock wall. He thus opened valves that controlled the flooding of the tanks on one side of the drydock. Soon the ship listed, slid off the blocks and fell against the wall. Parts of the drydock sank, and the ship partially did — fortunately without loss of life or personal injury. The drydock owner sought and was granted compensation by the District Court for the Eastern District of New York in an amount to be determined."
  3. ^
  4. ^ Fallon, Scott, "The ship that saved 7 during 'Perfect Storm' to be sunk off N.J.,", October 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Tomczuk, Jack, "Coast Guard veterans watch as 'Perfect Storm' cutter sunk off Cape May,", May 11, 2017.
  6. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166) at Wikimedia Commons