Lee County Commissioners have voted to move forward with a plan to turn the 165-foot USS Mohawk into an underwater reef. Scuba shops hope the sunken ship will increase scuba tourism in Southwest Florida.
The fifth US Coast Guard cutter named Mohawk (WPG-78) was built by Pusey & Jones Corp., Wilmington, Delaware, and launched 1 October 1934. She was commissioned on 19 January 1935.
The outbreak of war found her stationed at Cape May, New Jersey. Assigned to North Atlantic escort operations with the Greenland Patrol, where she served for the entire war, Mohawk launched a total of 14 attacks against submarine contacts between 27 August 1942 and 8 April 1945.
Found in a scrap yard
At the end of the War, she was transferred to her old homeport of Cape May and had her war-time armament removed. She was declared "surplus to needs of Coast Guard" on 13 July 1948 and was put up for sale. After being used for 30 years as a pilot boat on the Delaware River, the Mohawk was taken in ownership by Caribbean Transport Lines in lieu of back payment for mooring fees on Staten Island.
Mohawk was found in a Staten Island scrap yard by Frans Boetes, then president and CEO of Mohawk’s Memorial Museum. She had been there rusting for over 15 years. After some initial repairs, she was towed to Miami, where substantial repairs were made, and on to Key West where she is berthed today at the inner quay wall, at the old Navy pier in the Truman Waterfront. She is currently closed to the public.