U.S.S. Zuni commissioned in Portland, OR, began service as a fleet ocean tug. She was classified first as an Auxiliary Tug (AT), then as an Auxiliary Tug, Fleet (ATF).
The Zuni earned four Battle Stars. Her record included towing the crippled U.S.S. Houston to safety after the cruiser took two torpedo hits and keeping the damaged cruiser U.S.S. Reno afloat as it was withdrawn from battle. She also supported combat vessels during the Battle of Iwo Jima. During these operations, the unarmed Zuni sustained damage and casualties.
Zuni decommissioned as a Navy vessel, transferred to the Coast Guard, and renamed the USCGC Tamaroa. She was then classified as a WATF (Auxiliary Tug , Fleet) and later as a WMEC (Medium Endurance Cutter).
Following the ramming and sinking of the Andrea Doria, the Tamaroa escorted the ship held responsible in the collision, the Stockholm, to New York.
The Tamaroa engaged in fisheries law enforcement and drug trafficking control, making 12 drug busts and carrying out numerous search and rescue missions.
The Tamaroas crew rescued Air National Guard crewmen whose helicopter crashed into the sea during The Perfect Storm, as captured in the book and film.
Tamaroa decommissioned. She was donated to the Intrepid Museum in New York where she stayed for several years. Eventually, she was moved and almost abandoned, and then sold by GSA at auction.
A rescue team of former crewmen boarded the Tamaroa and assessed the existing conditions. Efforts began to publicize her plight and mobilize a restoration effort.
A private donor acquired the Tamaroa and donated her to the newly formed Tamaroa Maritime Foundation. A comprehensive plan was developed to make her seaworthy under her original configuration as the U.S.S. Zuni. A regular schedule of volunteer work weekends was established.
Ship Registered and documented with the National Vessel Documentation Center of the USCG as a private yacht known as the Motor Vessel Tamaroa. First Navy Junior ROTC unit from Washington, DC came aboard for training.
Several groups of Boy Scouts came aboard for work projects.
With repairs well underway and original type equipment acquired, the TMF developed a business plan and began seeking a permanent home for the Motor Vessel Tamaroa.
On September 4, 2007 the Foundation voted to re-brand the Foundation from Tamaroa Maritime Foundation to the Zuni Maritime Foundation.
On October 2/3 McAllister Towing of Virgina towed the ship from Baltimore, MD to Newport News, VA, where the Zuni/Tamaroa was moored behind the McAllister's tugs at the Newport News City Pier.
The ship was moved from Newport News City Pier to Dominion Yard in Norfolk.
On December 19 the ship was towed from her temporary berth at Dominion Yard to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia.