The second day of the Charleston road trip was consumed by visiting Patriots Point, home of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), and submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343). Unfortunately, the Vietnam Naval Support Base exhibit is under renovation and currently not open.
The USS Yorktown is an Essex class aircraft carrier, named in honor of the USS Yorktown (CV-5) which was sunk at the Battle of Midway in 1942. The Yorktown saw extensive service in the Pacific Theater from late 1943 to the defeat of Japan in 1945. After World War II, she was decommissioned, but was recommissioned in 1953 and saw service until 1970, serving in the Vietnam War and recovering the crew of Apollo 8 in 1968.
You can’t tell in the photos, but it was bitterly cold the morning the flight deck photos were taken and being on the flight deck with the wind coming off of Charleston Harbor, it was even worse. Throughout the trip I posted Instagrams but not from the flight deck, the touchscreen on the phone didn’t work with my gloves on and I wasn’t going to take them off!
The USS Laffey (DD-724), nicknamed “The Ship That Would Not Die,” is a Sumner class destroyer. While operating as radar picket on 16 April 1945 during the invasion of Okinawa, she was attacked both conventionally and by Kamikazes. Attacked by 22 aircraft, she was hit by five Kamikazes and three bombs (plus 2 near misses). 32 of her crew were killed and 71 were injured yet the ship was able to be taken under tow offshore of Okinawa where quick temporary repairs were made. She was then able to return to the States under her own power via Eniwetok, Hawaii, to Tacoma where she underwent full repairs. Decommissioned after World War II, she was recommissioned in 1951 and saw service in the Korean War, the Cold War, also serving in the Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis.
The USS Clamagore (SS-343) is a Balao class submarine. She was commissioned just before the end of World War II and saw service during the Cold War, based out of Key West, Charleston, and New London. She was one of only 9 submarines to receive the GUPPY III conversion which gave the submarine more space and added new SONAR and electronics. Unfortunately, the USS Clamagore probably won’t be at Patriots Point much longer. To be honest, she is not in very good condition and the museum just doesn’t have the funds to renovate her. A member of the museum staff I talked with during my visit said they just did over $9 million in work on the Laffey and that the Yorktown would always be the priority (rightfully so) with the Laffey second due to the history behind both ships. The Clamagore just doesn’t have that kind of history, so it has to have a lower priority. From what I understand, it is possible that the Clamagore could be turned into a reef off of the coast. It’s unfortunate, but due to tight financial times museums like Patriots Point are being forced to decide whether they want to keep everything they’ve got or take the best care possible of their most important assets. In my opinion, taking care of the most important assets is the best choice. If you want a chance to see the Clamagore, I’d suggest going to Patriots Point soon.
I also have blog posts up with photos from the other monuments and museums I visited: Fort Moultrie and the North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum. Photos of aircraft from Patriots Point are next up. Scanning and Monitoring reports have also been posted from Day 1 and Day 2 of the two day trip.