Palm Beach County Commissioners voted 7-0 at Tuesday’s meeting to pay a Miami firm $1 million to coordinate the sinking off the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast” in about 90 feet about 1½ miles off the Juno Beach Pier.
For decades, a 320-foot Cold War-era submarine has been a floating tourist attraction in downtown Charleston S.C. Now a group hopes to sink it off Jupiter, perhaps as early as this summer, as part of Palm Beach County’s renowned 150-plus piece artificial reef program and as an “underwater museum.” Organizers said it would be the first sub ever turned into a reef in Florida.
Palm Beach County plans to sink the USS Clamagore, the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast,” in about 100 feet, according to a memo for Tuesday’s county commission meeting.
County Commissioners would vote to approve paying a Miami firm $1 million. The money will come from a vessel registration fee trust fund.
The diesel-powered Clamagore, built in 1945, just after the end of World War II, ran up and down the Atlantic coast from Key West to Charleston and trained sailors to track Soviet nuclear subs. It was retired in 1975 and since 1981 has been docked since at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston.
According to the memo for Tuesday’s commission meeting, while the sub has been a popular draw, it has “structural fatigue” so extensive it’s not practical to repair it enough for tourists to safely tour it. Several groups had suggested new homes for the sub but couldn’t come up with the money.
A third plaque will feature Palm Beach County Sheriff’s corrections officer Fernandas Jones, his 70-year-old stepfather, Willis Bell, and Jones’ 9-year-old son Jayden. The three drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10. A cousin, Robert Stewart, survived.
Palm Beach County Commissioners and families of the lost mariners will gather next Monday at the Manatee Lagoon, at the Florida Power & Light Co. plant in Riviera Beach, for a dedication ceremony, the county said.