The USS Yorktown at Patriots Point is in need of costly repairs, a herculean job that would require more than $100 million, according to estimates.
And it’s money that the state of South Carolina, which is the financial caretaker of the decommissioned aircraft carrier, does not have.
The long-simmering problem came to a boil today, as the Patriots Point Development Authority discussed a letter it received from the Department of the Navy about the deteriorating condition of the donated warship.
In short, the Navy has given the state agency two options for dealing with the floating maritime museum: Either put the vessel in dry-dock so its rusting hull can be repaired or develop a plan to dispose of the aging ship.
Dick Trammell, executive of the authority, said the early estimates for dry-docking run between $100 million to $120 million. That staggering cost does not include the millions of dollars in dredging and other work that would be required to prepare the Yorktown for a move to a shipyard.
“If anyone would like to write us a check the bank is open,” Trammell said.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Kruger Smith, who is on the development authority’s board, called the Navy’s demands “absurd.” Other board members agreed.
“What they’re saying is place the Yorktown in dry-dock,” said John Hagerty, who is chairman of the authority. “What I’m saying is, ‘We can’t do that right now.’”
In a letter to Hagerty dated June 18, Rear Admiral J. P. McManamon said that as part of the agreement to donate the Yorktown to Patriots Point in 1974, the state assumed “all ownership costs,” including renovations, repairs and disposal.
McManamon also noted that the Navy is prohibited by law from providing financial assistance for any donated ship.
A formal response to the admiral’s letter from the authority is overdue.
Other maritime museums with donated Navy ships around the country have received similar letters, Patriots Point officials said.
Built in the early 1940s, the Yorktown was the nation’s 10th aircraft carrier. It was towed from Bayonne, N.J., to Mount Pleasant in 1975 to serve as the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
For more details, see Wednesday’s editions of The Post and Courier.