In answer to a strongly worded Aug. 21 letter titled “Yorktown repairs” criticizing the exterior condition of the USS Yorktown, I state that we unequivocally agree that the ship needs to be painted. We have a plan.
In short, we will begin painting the starboard side of the vessel this year. The following year we will schedule the port side. I am not sure if the letter writer has ever painted a warship before but it is not inexpensive. We will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the project. It does little good to make excuses, but we allocated the bulk of our resources for the past four years on restoration of the dangerously deteriorated USS Laffey. She is now in beautiful condition.
We just completed an environmental assessment of the USS Yorktown, and we will complete a structural assessment of “the Fighting Lady” this year. These are critical steps in our plan to restore the 70-year-old warship. About 20 percent of our revenues are devoted to annual and long-term maintenance of the USS Yorktown.
A critical part of our business plan is to divert as much of our revenue stream as possible from property leases to capital maintenance, restoration and improvements, as we increase our ticket sales. Ticket sale increases have been significant this past year.
As we improve our museum product over the next three years and execute our strategic marketing plans our ticket sales will continue to increase allowing us to devote as much as $1 million more each year to maintenance and restoration.
It will serve no purpose to look to the past for answers as to why more work has not been accomplished. Our job is to develop and execute a plan for the future maintenance of our ships, and our board has done that.
I would ask the letter writer when he last brought his family and friends to visit Patriots Point. Less than 40 percent of our visitors are local.
Next time you have guests and you run out of things to do, bring them to see our ships. We have so many new exhibits and programs. That is the best way to help us.
Remember, we receive no annual appropriation of funds from the state of South Carolina or from the federal government. What we spend, we earn. Interestingly, a bill was recently pre-filed in Congress that would prohibit federal funds from being allocated to former Navy vessels that are now museum ships.
There is nothing simple or clear about maintaining these 70-year-old vessels in salt water, but we have a plan and we will implement this plan.
Patriots Point Development Authority
Patriots Point Boulevard