Ex-USS Clamagore Departs Patriots Point to be demilitarized, recycled
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - A former U.S. Navy submarine will embark on its final journey Friday.
The ex-USS Clamagore will be towed away from Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and taken to Norfolk, Va. where it will be recycled.
Director of Operations for Patriots Point Michael Hastings said after years in the water, the submarine sprung several leaks. He estimated it would cost around $10 million to dry-dock and repair it.
The submarine has been closed to the public since Dec. 2021 because of a leak in the main ballast tank.
The board voted to recycle the ex-USS Clamagore in March of this year, and a contract was secured in August.
Crews have been working to remove materials and improve buoyancy on the submarine since August.
“It just comes down to, we just didn’t have the financial ability to save her, we just didn’t,” Hastings said. He said leaving it “as is” wasn’t an option because if a severe hurricane hit, it could have sunk to the bottom of the ocean causing a major environmental hazard.
The Clamagore was commissioned in 1945, but it was too late to serve in World War II. From there, it went on to serve 30 years and then opened as a museum at Patriots Point in 1981.
Sid Busch joined the Navy in 1965. The Clamagore was the second submarine he served on.
After his service, Busch went on to give tours of the ex-USS Clamagore at Patriots Point for over 10 years. He said during that time, he noticed very little maintenance or preservation work done on the submarine.
“She took us to sea, protected us and brought us back home safely. To see this happen to her, basically tears our heart out,” Busch said.
Busch said he served on 12 ships, and each one had a different personality. He compared Friday’s loss to losing a pet German shepherd, and said he wishes he could have done more to protect her.
“I feel guilty because she got me home safely, and I wasn’t able to return the favor to her,” Busch said.
Hastings said they have an extensive list of parts and pieces that they intend to hold on to from the Clamagore to put on display in the USS Yorktown and other museums across the country with the hope of keeping her memory alive.
The Clamagore operated in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean and earned the nickname “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast.”
The museum says 504 batteries, each weighing 900 pounds, have been removed from the submarine along with the boat’s sail.
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