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Navy Cleaning Up “Catastrophic” Hurricane Damage With PM-Hugo Bjt

September 23, 1989 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Air Force crews are beginning to clean up ″catastrophic levels of damage″ at the Charleston, S.C., Air Force Base and sweep wreckage at other bases and military ships that were caught in the path of Hurricane Hugo.

No serious injuries were reported at several bases along the eastern seaboard, the Pentagon said Friday, but two firefighters at the Charleston base sustained minor injuries.

A nuclear attack submarine was knocked from its moorings in the Charleston harbor and a Navy destroyer was sideswiped by a barge tossed in the waves whipped by the hurricane’s winds.

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Hugo treated the military installations no differently from the rest of the ravaged Carolinas, ripping apart poles with power lines and wiping out power and communications at facilities. The information from the Charleston base, one of the Navy’s main installations on the East Coast, was sketchy.

″Many roofs off, many windows out, ... most trees down,″ the Pentagon statement said. ″Preliminary reports of catastrophic levels of damage″ had been received.

A few airplane hangar doors were knocked off during the storm but the aircraft inside were not damaged, the statement said.

The base is the home of the 437th Military Airlift Wing, and the 315th Military Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve.

The USS Narwhal, a nuclear attack submarine that was tied up at the Charleston Navy shipyard, broke loose from its moorings, said a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lundquist.

The crew submerged the sub as a safety precaution, he said, and later returned to the surface without incident.

The Pentagon statement said the USS Dewey, a guided missile destroyer, was damaged by a barge that broke free and scraped the side of the ship, and several small boats assigned to a submarine squadron were sunk at the pier.

″Widespread flooding″ occurred and electricity has been disrupted at the Navy base, but emergency power has been made available at ″vital installations.″ Limited telephone service was restored Friday, the statement said.

The Naval Hospital was reported operating and providing assistance to local residents, the Pentagon said.

Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., reported ″major damage″ to its housing area with ″many trees and power lines″ down. No injuries occurred at the base, where the wall of the commissary caved in, the Pentagon statement said.

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At Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, S.C., moderate structural damage occurred to some buildings, and only emergency generators were providing power.

The Army reported a ″widespread power outage and minor flooding″ at Fort Jackson, S.C., which was directly in the path of the hurricane. Minor damage occurred to one of the barracks, the statement said.