Tour an aircraft carrier that earned its battle stars in World War II and the Vietnam War.
The USS Yorktown is an 888-foot (271-meter) aircraft carrier. The naval ship served in several wars, earning a host of battle stars. Today it lies in the water off Patriots Point in the Charleston Harbor and is open to the public as a memorial and museum.
The USS Yorktown was the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy. It was commissioned in 1943 and served in the Pacific Offensive. The ship was involved in heavy battles, including the sinking of enemy battleships and providing support to troops landing at Okinawa in Japan. During the Vietnam War it earned battle stars providing anti-submarine warfare support for faster carriers. One of the ship’s last missions was recovering the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule from the ocean in 1968.
This historic ship was decommissioned in 1970 and towed to Patriot’s Point Maritime Museum at Charleston Harbor. Take a tour to learn about life aboard this vessel. The ship housed up to 3,500 naval personnel and 90 aircraft at a time. Walk along the flight deck, through engine rooms and officers’ quarters. You can even take a ride in a flight simulator.
There are two museums on board, including a shipyard with photographs and tools. The Medal of Honor Museum is a memorial to sailors and officers and the hangar deck houses vintage airplanes.
Two films were made aboard the Yorktown: the Academy Award–winning documentary The Fighting Lady, filmed in 1944, and the 1970 American-Japanese war movie Tora! Tora! Tora! See a screening of The Fighting Lady for free in the Yorktown's theater.
When you need a break and some refreshments, head to the chief petty officer’s mess hall and enjoy a hot meal. There are also two snack bars.
Patriot's Point plays host to a Guppy III submarine, the USS Clamagore, and the battleship USS Laffey, which provided support on D-Day for the landing at Normandy.
USS Yorktown is on the waterfront at Patriot’s Point, Mount Pleasant, about a 10-minute drive from downtown Charleston. Consider taking a water taxis to get there, as dolphins are sometimes seen in the harbor. Water taxis leave hourly from Wharfside Street in downtown Charleston. If you’re driving, expect a fee to park. Patriot’s Point is open daily, except on Christmas Day.