Watch: 'Perfect Storm' rescue ship sunk off New Jersey coast

The Tamaroa, a former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter present at Iwo Jima and as a rescue vessel during what would become the best-selling book and movie The Perfect Storm, was sunk Wednesday as a fish-attracting artificial reef of the New Jersey coast.

Several people caught video of the sinking, including via drone by Skygear Solutions as seen above.

Here’s a quick clip if you don’t have a lot of time.

Now that it’s part of the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Artificial Reef, the Tamaroa will provide marine habitat.  The sinking was a joint effort between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  The area is about 26 nautical miles from both Lewes, Del. and Cape May.

The ship was docked at the shipyard of Coleen Marine in Norfolk, Va., and towed to the site. The 74-year-old Tamaroa was originally named the USS Zuni when it served as a Cherokee class Navy tug during operations at Iwo Jima and is the last surviving vessel from that battle. The Coast Guard took use of the 205-foot-long ship after the war and renamed it. 

The ship was featured in a rescue scene depicted in The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger’s gripping account of a lethal nor’easter in 1991 that sank the commercial fishing vessel Andrea Gail and drowned its crew. The 2000 blockbuster movie version starred George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

During the same storm, the Tamaroa rescued three people from the sailboat Satori 75-miles off Nantucket Island, according to a Coast Guard history of the ship.  The ship was then sent to rescue the crew of a New York Air National Guard  helicopter from the 106th Air Rescue Group that went down.

The Tamaroa was decommissioned in 1994.  A plan to turn the ship into a museum failed.

It cost $380,000 to purchase the ship and clean out toxic PCBs and other contaminants to make it ready as a reef.

Here’s another video posted on the DNREC Facebook page, courtesy of Skygear Solutions.

Officials say the ship will be put to good use.

Algae, barnacles, and other aquatic life are expected to colonize the ship within weeks.  Sunken vessels attract smaller fish, such as black sea bass, as they hide from predators such as sharks.  Fish also use the ships as shelters during storms.  At the same time, the hard surfaces attract other aquatic life such as blue mussels.

But ships such as the Tamaroa will also lure in sportsmen looking for areas more dense with fish.  Some environmentalists fear that will lead to overfishing.