KNOXVILLE — A group from East Tennessee is trying to rally support to bring a historic submarine to the region.
Josh Richardson and the Friends of the Clamagore told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Knoxville would make an ideal location for the USS Clamagore.
"We really have no dedicated military history museum as such here in East Tennessee," Richardson said. "We have all kinds of different museums and markers and historic sites to go to, but there's not a single, consolidated location that presents the military history of East Tennessee. Trying to bring a World War II-era sub here would be a way to anchor that. If she came here, she'd be the only historic vessel inland in the Southeast."
The Navy sub was commissioned in 1945 and spent decades in service during the Cold War. It was decommissioned in 1975 and has been on display at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in South Carolina since 1981.
According to the newspaper, it is the only sub of its kind to be preserved in the U.S. and has been named a National Historic Landmark. But it needs repairs estimated at about $3 million.
If the sub isn't sold, it will be sunk off the coast of Florida and turned into an artificial reef.
"If a group offers to buy the sub, the contract will allow for their offer to be considered," Patriots Point spokesman Chris Hauff said.
Richardson said he thinks enough funding can be raised to restore the vessel and transport it to Tennessee. He is hoping the sub can be anchored at Fort Loudoun Lake.
"She's the last of her kind left," he said. "It's physically possible to bring her here. It can be an economic generator that draws people into the museum, and that way we won't have a piece of our nation's history sitting at the bottom of the ocean."
There seems to be growing support for bringing the Clamagore to East Tennessee.
"We're very interested in it," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. "It's just a huge undertaking. If it's my money, I can be emotional about it, but with the taxpayers' money it has to be vetted."