Navy on Yorktown: Fix it or junk it

Discussion in 'Stories' started by beaupower32, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    MOUNT PLEASANT -- The aircraft carrier Yorktown played a heroic role in numerous battles for the Navy, from the time it was built in the 1940s until it was decommissioned in 1970.

    But as the longtime centerpiece of the floating maritime museum at Patriots Point, the inactive warship has been slowly losing a silent, corrosive and very costly war with nature.

    Officials at the military attraction estimated Tuesday that it would cost more than $100 million to dry dock and repair the ship's deteriorating steel hull. It's money that South Carolina does not have.

    The long-simmering problem came to a boil as the Patriots Point Development Authority discussed a letter it received from the Department of the Navy about the deteriorating condition of the donated ship.

    In short, the Navy has given the state agency two options for dealing with the Yorktown: Either put the vessel in dry dock so its rusting hull can be fixed or submit a plan to dispose of the aging ship.

    "Disposal is not in our vocabulary," said Dick Trammell, executive director of the authority.

    Trammell said the early estimates for dry docking the Yorktown run between $100 million and $120 million. And that figure does not include the millions of dollars in dredging and other work that would be required to prepare the ship for a move from its longtime berth.

    "If anyone would like to write us a check, the bank is open," Trammell said.

    He said the ship is not in danger of sinking -- it rests in 26 feet of mud -- and that the oil that is still on board poses no immediate environmental threat. He said the main area of structural concern is near the Yorktown's bow, just above the waterline.

    "It is definitely a long-term problem," he said.

    Letter from the Navy
    A letter from the Department of the Navy reguarding the care of water-borne vessels donated by the Navy (PDF)
    The deferred maintenance expenses facing the Yorktown and ships at other naval museums raise some difficult and emotionally charged questions that can't be put off much longer, said John Hagerty, chairman of the development authority.

    Hagerty said it remains to be seen "what the will of the people is to keep this memorial going."

    "I think the will of the people will always be to honor our veterans," he said Tuesday. "But the question is, How much are we willing to pay to honor them?"

    The Yorktown
    Some background on the ship:

    • The 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the Navy.

    Length: 888 feet.

    • Built in 16 1/2 months in Newport News, Va. Commissioned on April 15, 1943

    . • Participated significantly in the Pacific Offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. Received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II. Much of the 1944 Academy Award-winning documentary "The Fighting Lady" was filmed aboard the Yorktown.

    • Recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and space capsule in December 1968.

    • Decommissioned in 1970 and placed in reserve. Towed from Bayonne, N.J., to Mount Pleasant in 1975.
    Patriots Point, which has borrowed about $9 million to dry-dock and repair leaks to the destroyer Laffey, is not alone in dealing with wear and tear of saltwater on in-water attractions. Trammell said the Navy has put most other museums that house inactive military ships "on notice" about overdue maintenance.

    In a letter to Hagerty dated June 18, Rear Adm. J.P. McManamon of the Naval Sea System Command said that as part of the Navy's 1974 agreement to donate the Yorktown to Patriots Point, the state assumed "all ownership costs," including renovations, repairs and disposal.

    McManamon also said the Navy is prohibited by law from providing financial assistance for any of its donated ships. The letter did not cite any penalties should Patriots Point fail to comply with the request for written details of a repair or disposal plan.

    A spokeswoman for the Naval Sea Command could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    A formal response to McManamon's letter, which was sent with other correspondence to state and federal lawmakers, is expected to be ready next week.

    "What they're saying is, place the Yorktown in dry dock," Hagerty told board members at a meeting on board the ship Tuesday. "What I'm saying is, we can't do that right now."

    The Yorktown has not been placed in dry dock for maintenance since it was towed to Patriots Point about 34 years ago.

    Mount Pleasant acting Mayor Kruger Smith, attending his last meeting as a member of the development authority, described the unfunded mandates spelled out by the Navy as "absurd." Other board members agreed.
     
  2. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Shoot, I hope they can put her in drydock, hate to see the ship go. One question, was is the navy not allowed to give money to any of the ships it donates.
     
  3. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that is a tough situation. I hope they save it and can raise enough money to place it in drydock. I have a special place for the Yorktown. Growing up, I was a boy scout, and my troop took a week long trip that where we stayed on the Yorktown for a few nights. It was a awesome experience. We basically had the run of the ship at night after hours. I'd hate to see it get to the point where it is too far gone to save. We were told that the bottom decks were flooded, and it was sunk down in the seabed. I'm surprised any oil at all was left on board.
     
  4. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Bad time and bad economy to ask for 100 million + to fix a museum, but I hope they do.
     
  5. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    #5 beaupower32, Oct 22, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
    Patriots Point, which has borrowed about $9 million to dry-dock and repair leaks to the destroyer Laffey, is not alone in dealing with wear and tear of saltwater on in-water attractions. Trammell said the Navy has put most other museums that house inactive military ships "on notice" about overdue maintenance.

    In a letter to Hagerty dated June 18, Rear Adm. J.P. McManamon of the Naval Sea System Command said that as part of the Navy's 1974 agreement to donate the Yorktown to Patriots Point, the state assumed "all ownership costs," including renovations, repairs and disposal.

    McManamon also said the Navy is prohibited by law from providing financial assistance for any of its donated ships. The letter did not cite any penalties should Patriots Point fail to comply with the request for written details of a repair or disposal pla
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I too would hate to see the Yorktown go. I have a special place for it as well. I used to visit her on many occasions as a child, when I lived in S. Carolina.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Ain't good. Most municipalities are broke or deep in debt. Not as though the constituents are any better.

    Don't be suprised if more of this happens. Don't see a happy ending to this one unless they can get Microsoft or some such to sponsor the refurbishment.
     
  8. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Surely the US Navy own dry docks?
    Couldn't they then create a historical engineering department, staffed by experienced USN Engineering Officers and ratings and make it a two-year posting or something? Draft in USN Engineering apprentices/cadets for work experience under the supervision and guidance of the permanent staff and get the boat back on its feet, so to speak.

    No extra capital outlay, the Navy personnel are getting paid anyway and I bet sums of money they'd enjoy something like that, working on something that's woven into their history.

    On a much grander scale obviously, this would largely mirror how the RAF operates its historical aircraft under the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

    When you're all out of resources, you've got to be resourceful.
     
  9. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I am wondering if the 100 million includes removal and replacement back in it's foundation, and transportation to and from the dry dock. Is it better to have it sunk in the mud vs. having it float in the ocean?
    Anyone know pros and cons for each?
     
  10. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    I think with the state of the economy she will end up being scrapped.
    I don't see people coughing up 100 to 120 million to fix her. :(

    The only way the Navy could fix it would be to recommision her and then decomission her again.
    I don't see the Navy doing that for an obsolete ship either.
    They have to many other budgeted items that need the money more than the Yorktown.


    Wheels
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Kind of odd the the navy has no appreciation of their own history.
     
  12. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I guess it is like an adoption. The new adoptive parents are responsible for all costs, and the birth parents do not want any part I guess of financial support or they would have kept the 888 ft kid!
     
  13. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Would hate to see her go! :(
     
  14. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    A couple of years ago they pulled the USS Intrepid out of her berth in NYC and did a $60 million + overhaul/restoration. Was even the subject of a documentary on the History Channel.

    With all of the questionable dollars earmarked in the various "stimulus" packages being passed by congress, they should find the money to fund the preservation of our American military heritage.

    Unfortunately, that heritage does not seem to be very important, or has gotten lost, in the current political climate. Problem is, many people today, epecially young people, have never even heard of the Yorktown.

    If the Yorktown is allowed to "die", what great ship will be next? The Missouri, the New Jersey?

    TO
     
  15. joy17782

    joy17782 Member

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    I hope to god someone would do something for a wonderful part of are history. maybe someone will get a fund going .
     
  16. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I believe the Intrepid is almost fully funded by private money, not federal funds. I have a close friend whose family was instrumental in preserving the Intrepid and that friend has kept me abreast of the happenings.
     
  17. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I'm still blown away they let the WW2 Enterprise go to the scrap heap.
     
  18. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    And the Nevada (BB-36). She was too old for retention in the post-war fleet, and was assigned to serve as a target during the July 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini, in the Marshall Islands. That experience left her damaged and radioactive, and she was formally decommissioned in August 1946. After two years of inactivity, USS Nevada was towed to sea off the Hawaiian islands and sunk by gunfire and torpedos.

    Not the way that the only BB that got underway on December 7 should have met her end. Disgraceful!

    TO
     
  19. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I agree with VB. If any ship of WW2 deserved to be preserved, it should have been Enterprise and that includes USS Texas. LOL
     
  20. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    This would be a good public work project for the government. The Texas, BB-35, will be needing work again in a few years. The last of the dreadnaughts. I would hate to see any of them scraped. They should be in a perament dry dock so this does nto keep happening.

    DBII
     
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