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Sink the Yorktown??? Don’t Think So…

May 24, 2009
USS Yorktown (CV-10) in Charleston Harbor

USS Yorktown (CV-10) in Charleston Harbor

Perhaps I shouldn’t write this rebuttal to the Post and Courier article “Sink the Yorktown and bring in another ship” by Ken Burger, so soon after researching for a Memorial Day post for tomorrow, as it got a little emotional at times. Mr Burger might well have waited until after the day when we honor our fallen heroes to propose scrapping what is a major symbol of our Veteran’s sacrifice, since 1975 moored in Charleston Harbor, the WW 2 aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. The reporter says:

Experts recently estimated it would take $64 million to repair the four warships berthed along the banks of the Cooper River. That’s a lot of money the state authority does not have and probably cannot raise from ticket sales, which are in decline.
The exhibit includes the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the destroyer Laffey, the submarine Clamagore and the Coast Guard cutter Ingham.
All seemed like good ideas at the time they were moored in the pluff mud and put on display. Time and tide, however, have turned them into rusting hulks.
Patriots Point officials, therefore, are mired in a deepening dilemma about what to do, saying a new financial model is desperately needed to support the exhibits.
While this idea will be perceived as blasphemous in some circles, perhaps it is time to sink these ships and bring in other attractions.

The Yorktown might be a “rusting hulk” to Mr Burger, but not to many thousands of our citizens who were young men when they served. For them the “Fighting Lady” was home away from home, and where many saw their friends die brutal deaths in defense of this country. For the families of the fallen, often the mighty warship setting sail for far shore was the last memory they had of loved ones who never returned. The Yorktown then, has become a highly visual embodiment of their memory and sacrifice, a living monument which the reporter would so callously discard to pay for our government’s excesses.

Speaking of cost, if Mr Burger considers a 30,000 ton ship costs “enormous sums of money to maintain”, imagine what an 80,000-100,000 ton aircraft carrier would cost in annual upkeep, which he proposes to replace the Yorktown with, which is the size of the average nuclear powered flattop. I can imagine the environmental advocates howling at the very idea of a giant nuclear ship in Charleston Harbor, no matter how well the reactors are cleaned up.

Considering the Yorktown’s age, there are older iron vessels as national monuments, including the battleship USS Texas commissioned in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War. Overseas the British still maintain her first ironclad battleship, HMS Warrior, a 10,000 ton ship which was built when the US Civil War was ongoing!

Mr Burger does have a right to his opinion, but honoring our servicemen is not just about slapping up any old monument to make ourselves feel better that we “support the troops”. It is about memories, and if we destroy the Yorktown, for many the memories die with her.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 26, 2009 8:10 pm

    Sounds like a good plan Jay! If only the money handlers will listen!

  2. jay permalink
    May 26, 2009 6:59 pm

    if you sink the yorktown ,then bring in another ship- your going to have another moneypit thats rusting-crain the sub up on the land,build some sort of mote-or drydock arond the ship poor concrete around it backfill if it all possible put the laffy on land build a cannal fill it with water pull the ships on land. do something i love this ship i do not want it sunk. ask the gov for help-get a bob hope figure to raise money DONT SINK OUR SHIPS!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 25, 2009 6:51 am

    The Aquarium has consistenly run an annual decicit, from what I hear. And the Yorktown is apart of the Charleston skyline, like the Cooper River Bridge (Charles Ravenel). You don’t even have to pay the admittance fee to see Yorktown, its in your face!

    I was telling the family just the other day before this came up, how I would ride my bike before sunrise to the Fort Sumter Memorial, when I was living downtown, just to watch the sun hit the carrier across the river first thing in the morning. The beauty and peace of it was unimaginable!

  4. west_rhino permalink
    May 24, 2009 11:32 pm

    Seems to me that Mr. Burger is on another sinking ship. OTOH, I have to agree with Earl, the status quo won’t stand. Anyone remember the Florence Air and Missile Museum or the Willow Grove Naval Air Museum?

    Granted a number of Florence’s pieces went to the NC museum in Charlotte, Willow Grove though had the last H8N Emily flying boat and Prinz Eugen’s Ar-196… Ditto the sad end of USS Cabot, New Orleans didn’t turn things around with the CVE and it met its sad end in a salver’s yard as scarp going to India.

    Darned shame for Memorial Day, though it does underscore the attention fo some to “attractions” in the area and futures the Aquarium and Slavery museums may face, despite the fleeting smiling Mayoral visage that is there for the photo op to snip the ribbon and vanish… What ever became of Johnson-Wales and how many times did he speak at one of their graduations, vice his hollow howling about their departure.

    Maybe Yorktown spoils the view of Hungryneck from future condo sites on the Charelston side of the ditch. It does seem odd that Daniel Island’s devouring seems to have been deferred until the demise of NAVSTA CHS was a certainty.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink
    May 24, 2009 9:30 am

    I agree Earl, but this isn’t one of them. No Yorktown, no museum IMHO.

  6. May 24, 2009 9:21 am

    It may or may not be the desired solution, but I think we can all agree that the status quo cannot be maintained for much longer. These ships were not designed to last forever, and someone is going to have to come up with some solution to this.


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