MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - In an attempt to save the Clamagore submarine at Patriots Point, a restoration group has filed a lawsuit claiming the Patriots Point Development Authority doesn’t have the legal grounds to move it and create a reef or underwater memorial offshore.
The USS Clamagore Restoration and Maintenance Association states in the suit filed Tuesday that Patriots Point has a legal responsibility under state law and through contract with the United States to maintain the submarine.
A Florida man had previously aimed to put the submarine on a barge to Florida, sink it, and create a reef, but Patriots Point spokesman Chris Hauff said Tuesday that the group missed its deadline to fund the project.
“The company who had the rights to raise the money for the Florida reefing project, Artificial Reefs International (ARI), did not meet their deadline to raise the money needed,” Hauff said.
Now there is a new plan could create an underwater memorial off the coast of South Carolina.
“As it stands, the House has put money in their state budget proposal that could pay for the submarine to be stripped of environmental pollutants and placed off the South Carolina coastline as an underwater memorial,” Hauff said. " That budget has not been approved, so for now, the submarine is still here at Patriots Point and open for tours every day. There is no dates set for anything at the moment."
According to the proposed 2019-2020 state budget, more than $13.8 million has been set aside for the Patriots Point Development Authority.
In the lawsuit, the restoration group cites a piece of South Carolina code saying that no World War II, Korean War or Vietnam War memorial erected on public property of the state may be relocated, removed, disturbed or altered. The group claims that the Clamagore falls under that memorial status.
The group states that whether the Clamagore can be moved should be decided in the courtroom and that the United States donated the submarine to Patriots Point in 1979 with the idea that it would be used only as a museum and public memorial.
It also claims that Detyens Shipyards in North Charleston has given an estimate that it would only take $300,000 to transport the submarine to North Charleston, dry dock it, and then repair and preserve the hull.
According to the Patriots Point website, the Clamagore is the only GUPPY III submarine preserved in the U.S. It served during the Cold War and was retired in 1975 before joining Patriots Point in the early 1980s.
“We just received the civil action today and have not had an opportunity to review the document,” Hauff said in response to the lawsuit. "We will refer the matter to our attorney later today and will respond appropriately. “We are confident that our actions are consistent with every authority and responsibility of the Patriots Point Development Authority and are both prudent and necessary.”