USS CLAMAGORE (SS 343), retired in 1975, became a static exhibit at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston Harbor, SC thirty-one years ago.
Though primarily a Cold War artifact, her inner construction has changed little since initial outfitting as a WWII fleet boat. She is an excellent venue for visitors to experience the confines endured by submariners during conduct of successful southwest Pacific campaigns, as well as her active roll in the Cold War. Consequently, CLAMAGORE is a major attraction at the museum and site of frequent submarine crew reunions.
Patriot Point staff considers CLAMAGORE a valuable asset. However concerns have arisen that the hull’s deteriorating condition may result a potential environmental disaster in Charleston Harbor. This is based upon a study recently undertaken which alleges CLAMAGORE might sink and capsize alongside her dock. Consensus by a cadre of well qualified former submariners find the study results to be without merit. The deterioration is cosmetic only and principle structural integrity remains in tact.
Costs of repair are estimated at Patriots Point to be $3 million, though Museum Director Mac Burdette admits this to be a hip shot. Actual costs are likely far less.
Key members of US CLAMAGORE Veteran’s Association summoned by Burdette for a meeting on 8 August heard him express concerns over a CLAMAGORE possibly creating an environmental hazard. The Director presented planned actions, principally contracting with the state of Florida to sink the ship near Key West as a reef and object for scuba diver exploration. Other alternatives, considered unlikely were also revealed; none having the ship remain at Patriots Point. Burdette estimated attendant inquiries into these options to require seven months.
The Director admitted logic advanced by the submariners on the low likelihood of CLAMAGORE sinking is plausible and might overturn the recent study findings. These however are what he must currently confront. Burdette agreed if an analysis by credible licensed engineers invalidates his concerns over CLAMAGORE, he will present the new findings to the Museum Board of Directors, a South Carolina State appointed agency. He is confident this will buy twenty-four additional months for raising required funds, an achievable goal based on current projections.
Though established less than a month ago a Save the Clamagore fund returns increase exponentially and have already reached $50 thousand.
The important near term objective; identify a suitable acknowledged expert to analyze and document CLAMAGORE’s true circumstance. Help is solicited. Donation of these services would be a shot in the arm for CLAMAGORE Veterans Association’s superb efforts.