Historic Sinking of the USCGC Mohawk Creates Veterans Memorial Reef
Creates First Dedicated Veterans Memorial Reef using a Military Ship
Coastal Conservation Association Florida and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy the USCGC Mohawk to its final resting place. The 165-foot World War II Coast Guard Cutter, "Mohawk" was the last remaining ship of the Battle of the Atlantic. The Mohawk was laid to rest in 90 feet of water on July 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM roughly 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwest coast, creating the first Veterans Memorial Reef dedicated to all U.S. veterans. The reef will be the new home to untold numbers of fish and other invertebrates living in the Gulf of Mexico.
CCA Florida chartered the 90’ "Great Getaway" that transported over 100 passengers to the deployment site. The passengers included USCG 2nd Class Petty Officer Edward March who served on the Mohawk for 15 months during WWII, his family, local veterans, members of the media, local and state dignitaries and elected officials as well as CCA members from across the state of Florida. “The feeling was surreal as the cutter slipped below the surface,” said CCA Chairman Jeff Miller. “This moment marked the ending to a long and historical life above water and the beginning of a new life as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Fisherman and scuba divers alike are very excited about the new artificial reef. “With more fish in the Gulf of Mexico comes the need for more habitat,” said Don Roberts, CCA Florida Habitat Chairman. “The sinking of the Mohawk will bring a new home to fish and marine life as well as new opportunities for fishermen and scuba divers from all over the world. The ship was an amazing site and looked as if she was ready for action.” The Mohawk was laid to rest with a fresh coat of wartime camouflage paint along with her anchor chains, props, replica guns, replica depth charges and a even a new whale boat was added. The official name of the reef is the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef and the coordinates are 82°43'42.347"W 26°33'14.64"N.
The Mohawk was built in 1934 for patrol and icebreaking duties in the Hudson and Delaware rivers. During WWII, the USS Mohawk was commissioned for escort operations and traveled the world defending her country until 1945. The Mohawk launched 14 attacks on German submarines, rescued more than 300 survivors from torpedoed ships and was the last vessel to radio Gen. Dwight Eisenhower that the weather would be clear enough to launch the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“CCA Florida was honored to have the opportunity to participate in this historical event,” said Brian Gorski, CCA Florida Executive Director. “CCA Florida would like to thank Mike Campbell and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources for all of their time and effort in establishing the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef.”
CCA Florida salutes the members that served on the USCGC Mohawk along with all other service men and women that have served or are currently serving to protect the United States of America.
Source: Coastal Conservation Association Newsletter