Visiting the USS Yorktown and Patriot’s Point

February 20, 2017/Jonathan Rundle/2 Comments

The Yorktown has played such an incredible role in recent American history. Not only was it involved in a big way for World War II and Vietnam, but it also served as a recovery ship during the Apollo program’s missions to the moon.

So intertwined with history, the USS Yorktown was been awarded National Historic Landmark status.

Today we’re visiting Patriot’s Point to explore this historic ship and other historic sites nearby.

USS Yorktown Museum

Built in 1941 at Newport News, VA shipyard, the Yorktown participated in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam earning a total of 11 battle stars and a Presidential Citation. It was also in two movies after its fighting days were done.

After a long walk out to the ship, you’ll climb some steps into the hangar deck. Here you’re likely to be greeted by some Navy retirees who offer some jovial small talk and maps to self-tour the ship.

The hangar deck offers a great sampling of restored planes from WWII. These aren’t aviation museum-caliber restorations like you’d see at the Smithsonian, The Museum of Flight or the Flying Heritage Collection, but they are still quite impressive.

Hangar deck of the USS Yorktown

Each notable plane has a touchscreen kiosk where you can explore the specs on the plane and see it’s armament. The ship displays around 30 aircraft.

From here, we make a beeline for the flight deck. Here you’ll get up-close and personal to some of the machinery that called the Yorktown home over the years.

The deck of the USS YorktownHelicopter on USS YorktownF-14 on USS Yorktown

One reason I really wanted to see the Yorktown on this visit to Charleston was because I visited it as a little kid. Yes, that’s young Jonathan in the photo below. I wanted to try and replicate that photo.

Yorktown deck 1986Yorktown deck today

Fun. Sadly I couldn’t find those shorts in my current size.

Anyway, that’s the flight deck. Let’s check out the helm (with a cameo from Whitney in the center porthole).

The helm is in the pilot house, the brain of the ship. All of the instrumentation here (and throughout the ship) is from the era when the Yorktown was decommissioned, 1970.

At the helm of the USS Yorktown

Back into the heart of the ship, you explore crew quarters, radar rooms, and preparation rooms. Below is the big board from the pilot ready room.

Pilot schedule on USS Yorktown

In these various rooms, you get to see life on a ship and how these sailors lived and passed the time. Being an artist, I am drawn (hah) to the sketches of everyday people and how the artist turned them into memorable characters.

Solider's drawings on the USS Yorktown

I suppose if the Captain didn’t like your caricature of him, you might get thrown into the brig.

USS Yorktown jail

Medal of Honor Museum

Medal of Honor Museum celebrates the stories of valor related to Medal of Honor recipients. Shining examples from each major conflict are shown in the museum, but you’re also able to explore each and every medal citation using a touch screen kiosk.

Medal of Honor MuseumMedal of Honor MuseumMedal of Honor Museum

The Medal of Honor Museum is a new addition to the Yorktown. Visit it just to the left of the information desk on the hangar deck level.

USS Clamagore

It is certainly a unique experience to climb below the water line and explore the tight confines of the Clamagore.

She never saw much action, and in fact WWII was over by the time she finished training maneuvers. But, she is the only surviving example of a “guppy” style submarine. Because of this, and the fact that she has been maintained over the years, she too was given National Historic Landmark status.

Patriot's Point Museums

Whitney demonstrates the small doorway between compartments.

USS Clamagore Submarine Museum

Today’s submarines are nuclear powered and much larger. Here, we see the engine room and the four V16 GE diesel engines used to power the ship.

USS Clamagore Submarine Engine Room

The Clamagore would have held 24 torpedoes, one of which is shown in cross-section in the torpedo room, the final room of the ship (the most aft room).

USS Clamagore Submarine Torpedo Room

Unfortunately for the Clamagore, time is taking its toll. Her deteriorating condition has her slated to be sunk and turned into a reef.

Patriot’s Point

Patriot’s Point is not only home to the USS Yorktown, the Medal of Honor Museum, and the USS Clamagore, it’s also home to the USS Laffey, a replica of a Vietnam support base and serves as a boat launch for tours to Fort Sumter.

USS YorktownEgret on the Cooper RiverArthur Ravenel Jr. BridgeUSS Yorktown at sunset

Visit Patriot’s Point

From Charleston, cross the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge toward Mt. Pleasant and take your first exit. Patriot’s Point is open every day from 9am to 5pm. Plan ahead for Fort Sumter tours.

We’re still on day one in Charleston and we’ve covered a lot of ground. We took a walking tour, we saw some churches and graveyards and we had some lunch. Next, let’s go watch the sunset over the Ashley River and James Island from the Battery.

Comments (2)

  • Daniel Rundle .August 26, 2017.Reply

    Enjoyed the pics, especially the pic of you on the flight deck then and now. Some great shots of Whitney also!

  • Jo A Walsh .March 16, 2017.Reply

    I enjoyed the tour .I am glad you got your new picture on the deck

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