The USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166) was originally commissioned in 1943 as the USS Zuni, a 205-foot salvage tug. She served as a Navy tug until she was decommissioned and transfered to the Coast Guard on 29 June 1946. The Coast Guard, following the tradition of the time of naming cutters after Native American tribes, renamed her Tamaroa. The Tamaroa Indians were a fierce tribe that were members of the Illini Confederacy.
| Builder: Commercial Iron Works, Portland, OR
Launched: 9 October 1943
Commissioned USCG: 29 June 1946
Decommissioned: 1 February 1994
Length: 205' 6"
Navigation draft: 18'
Beam: 39' 3.25"
Displacement: 1,731 tons
Propulsion: Diesel-electric: 4 GM model 12-278 diesels
Shaft horsepower: 3,010
Maximum speed: 16.1 knots
Economical speed: 8.0 knots
Screw: Single, four-bladed
Fuel capacity: 66,363
Water capacity: 27,105 gallons
Endurance (@ 8 knots): 15,000 nautical miles
Complement (1990): 10 officers, 74 enlisted personnel
Electronics: Detection radar: SPN-25 (1961); Sonar: none
Armament (1990): 1 3"/50
Coast Guard History
Designated by the Coast Guard as a Medium Endurance Cutter (WMEC), the Tamaroa homeported from her commissioning in 1946 to 1985 in New York; first on Staten Island and then on Governors Island. From there she conducted numerous missions, including search and rescue, law enforcement patrols, international ice patrols, fisheries enforcement, to name just a few. In July 1985 she moved to New Castle, New Hampshire, where she remained until she was decomissioned in 1994.
Andrea Doria Sinking
|Throughout her Coast Guard career the Tamaroa assisted many vessels in distress. She was first on the scene at the sinking of the Andrea Doria. Among some of the more notable rescues include: the fishing vessels Deepwater, Foam and the yacht Petrel in the 60's; in the 80's she rescued the crew of Soviet freighter SS Konsomolets Kirgizil, the crew of the fishing vessel Jimmy Squarefoot, and rescued a portion of the crew of the 254-foot container ship, the SS Lloyd Bermuda after it went down when its cargo shifted in heavy seas.
Of course, the most publicized rescues the Tamaroa was in 1991 during the "No-Name" or "Halloween Storm" that was subsequently immortalized in Sebatian Junger's best-seller The Perfect Storm. The Tamaroa assisted in the rescue of the three crewmembers of the sailboat Satori, 75 miles off Nantucket island. During the operation seas built to forty feet in height and the winds were topping 80 mph.
No sooner had the crew relaxed when the Tamaroa was battling the heavy seas again, this time in search of the crew of a downed Air National Guard Helicopter that had been forced to ditch when it ran out of fuel on a rescue mission of its own. Tamaroa was able to rescue four of the five Air National Guardsmen, an act which earned the cutter the Coast Guard Foundation Award.
|On the law enforcement side the Tamaroa performed many seizures, both drug and fisheries related. Among the fisheries seizures in the 70's were the the Italian fishing vessel Amoruso Quarto and the Japanese fishing vessel Ookumi Maru. In the 80's with the increased emphasis on drug smuggling she seized numerous vessels including the Apollo III, a stateless vessel found carrying 16.5 tons of marijuana.
The Tamaroa had a unique reputation within the Coast Guard. She was known as the Coast Guard's only submarine due to an incident in the 60's when a crewmember opened a drydock's seacocks while the Tamaroa was getting refitted. At the time, she had several large gaping holes in her side to access mechanical repairs , she consequently sank.
Later on, during a particularly long NY City Sanitation strike, the Tamaroa assisted the City by towing out garbage barges--which added to her reputation.
In her over fifty years of service in both the Navy and Coast Guard the Tamaroa and her crew's won numerous awards making her one of the most decorated vessels in United States service. This is made all the more remarkable when you consider that she was a smaller working vessel, not one of the "stars" of the fleet. Listed below is the list of awards she received during the span of her career.
- Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Three Stars
- Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with Four Stars
- Navy "E" Ribbon with Three Stars
- Bicentennial Unit Commendation
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Stars
- Marianas Operation
- Western Caroline Islands Operation
- Luzon Operation
- Iwo Jima Operation
- World War II Victory Medal
- National Defense Medal with Three Stars
- Coast Guard Humanitarian Service Medal with Three Stars
- Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon
History Note: At this time, until we get better sources, a lot of the history
was taken from the U.S. Coast Guard's own Tamaroa page, located in
the Coast Guard Historian's Office area of the Coast Guard Web Site.
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