The Charleston suburb of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina is home to one of the nation’s premiere naval history museums. Patriot’s Point might be better described as a history complex, rather than a mere museum, but there’s no need to split hairs. Whatever you call it, there are few historical attractions on par with Patriot’s Point.
Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum hosts a number of elements that could be individual museums in their own right, but collectively they make up one of the largest collections of historic American naval vessels presently on display. The centerpiece of Patriot’s Point is the retired aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown (CV-10).
Visiting the USS Yorktown will take up the majority of your time at Patriot’s Point, as you wander up and down the passageways and ladders of this venerable warship. The Yorktown was commissioned in 1943 and after serving with distinction in the Pacific Campaign during World War Two, continued active service until 1970. During this time, the ship earned another 5 battle stars during the Vietnam War and had the distinction of recovering the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule.
Aboard the Yorktown are numerous displays, memorials and items of interest, including a number of historic military aircraft located on the flight deck and inside the hangar bay. Aside from the purely naval elements of the Yorktown experience, the ship is also home to the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum. Admission to the Medal of Honor museum is included in the ticket price for Patriot’s Point. Here the history of this highest military distinction is presented in an interactive exhibit and the stories of its courageous recipients are told and preserved.
Two other historic American Navy ships are also available for touring at Patriot’s Point. The World War II era destroyer, USS Laffey, and the submarine, USS Clamagore, provide insight into the roles of different ship types and offer a glimpse at the living conditions of the average sailor. While much smaller than the Yorktown, the stories of these ships and their crews are equally significant in understanding the nature of naval warfare and its role in 20th Century American history.
One of the more unique displays at Patriot’s Point is a recreation of a Naval Support Base typical of the Vietnam War. The Navy was heavily involved in what is known as riverine warfare during the conflict in Vietnam and the Naval Support Bases were shore installations that were home to multiple elements, including helicopter detachments and patrol boat units. This side of naval warfare presents quite a contrast from the high seas missions represented by Patriot’s Point big ships.
Whether you’re in the area to soak up the historic ambience of Charleston, or to splash in the surf at one of the nearby beaches, Patriot’s Point is sure to provide a memorable day excursion for the whole family. Give yourself plenty of time to see everything. Even a quick walk through of everything will take a few hours and a dedicated history buff can easily spend a full day here. A concession stand is available, as well as authentic ship board dining aboard the Yorktown. After your tour, you can visit the gift shop which offers a wide variety of naval and maritime souvenirs.