Patriots Point hopes to sink USS Clamagore, make it into reef by 2021

Patriots Point hopes to sink USS Clamagore, make it into reef by 2021

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In an ongoing lawsuit between the Patriots Point Development Authority and the USS Clamagore Restoration Association, court documents filed last week state that Patriots Point hopes to have the submarine sunk into a reef within two years.

An affidavit was filed last week by Robert Howard, the Patriots Point Development Authority property manager. He states that the goal is, “completing the reefing process” by April 2021.

“We hope to have the necessary approvals and be prepared to complete the project between January and June of 2021,” Patriots Point spokesman Chris Hauff said.

The documents mark the first time that a timeline for a possible sinking of the ship have been made public.

Howard also cites documents from a marine contractor dated April 26, 2019, which show it would currently take more than $9.3 million to fully repair the Clamagore. The quote for repairs cites more than $3 million in welding work, $250,000 for asbestos abatement, as well as more than $1 million in repairs to the superstructure deck.

“The $9.35 million repair estimate was reported to us by an expert in historic naval ship restoration,” Hauff said. “If the Clamagore were to be properly repaired, it would need far more than a cleaning and paint job. It would require thousands of feet of steel plating, environmental cleanup, and more. Based on our experience, just removing the Clamagore from the marina where it is moored is an estimated $160,000, with another cost of potentially a similar amount to bring the vessel back from the shipyard.”

Additionally, Howard states it would cost $3 million in salvage operations if the ship were to sink during a large storm. The restoration group stated in its initial lawsuit that it would only take $300,000 to drydock the submarine in North Charleston and repair it, according to a March 2019 quote from Deytens Shipyard.

Howard stated that the Patriots Point Development Authority averages $6,700 per month to maintain the Clamagore.

The affidavit also contained the Patriots Point Development Authority’s request for $2.7 million in the state budget. While Gov. Henry McMaster initially vetoed the money, lawmakers later overrode it.

“The USS Clamagore is in an advanced state of deterioration and is in danger of severe damage related to future tropical storms,” the budget request stated. “Funding from the appropriation will be used to remove environmental contaminants from the submarine Clamagore, prep the vessel for sinking as a fisheries reef, towing the vessel to the reef site, and submerging the submarine to create a reef. Some of the funds will also be used to create a land-based memorial to the crew of the Clamagore.”

The form also states that the $2.7 million would be in addition to $800,000 from Patriots Point, “reserve accounts” and The College of Charleston Foundation. SCDNR would also make an in-kind matching contribution of $800,000.

“While the Patriots Point Development Authority Board is passionate about its mission to foster patriotism and honor veterans, we must also be fiscally responsible if we are to continue to be financially self-sufficient,” Hauff said. “We have done everything possible over the past seven years to find a new museum home for the Clamagore, but there have been no takers. We truly understand the sentiments involved when talking about saving an historic warship. However, we are also charged with the responsibility of ensuring the long-term viability of the entire Patriots Point museum."

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