Patriots Point to unveil new plan for Yorktown tours

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Patriots Point officials are set to present a new "master plan" for the USS Yorktown on Friday,

According to a news release, the plan will employ cutting-edge technology to tell the stories of the USS Yorktown, her crew and pilots and will chart a course for a new museum for the next 10-15 years.

"When the USS Yorktown was moved to Patriots Point in 1975 to serve as the central exhibit of the Naval & Maritime Museum, our audience was predominately veterans of WWII and the Korean War and their immediate or second-generation families," said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. "Today's audience is entirely different. They are, to a great extent, families who may have no or little connection to the military and are looking for a well-rounded experience that incorporates history and science with the latest technology."

"This process will allow us to achieve a state-of-the-art educational and entertainment experience by investing over $4 million in major technological and format improvements to the USS Yorktown over the next five years," he continued. "We will bring 'The Fighting Lady' to life like no other historic ship in our nation. Visitors will leave the ship inspired and excited about the prospects of a return visit."

During the next three budget cycles, the Patriots Point Development Authority Board will consider allocating $2 million from Patriots Point revenue to fund several phases of this project, beginning in 2013 and 2014. The museum also looks to partner with the USS Yorktown Association and the Patriots Point Foundation to raise an additional $2 million over a four-year period.

The investment in the museum is expected to generate an additional 40,000 new ticket sales and an additional $1.2 million annually by the 2016 fiscal year.

The implementation of this Museum Master Plan – along with the opening of the Yorktown Flight Academy in early 2014 and a new Vietnam Experience exhibit in late 2014 – will establish Patriots Point as THE premier military museum in the Southeast. It is expected that the "new" museum will assist in Patriots Point's drive to reach 25,000 overnight campers by 2015.

Patriots Point Development Authority Board Chairman, Ray Chandler, released the following statement:

"Our Naval & Maritime Museum is truly one of the outstanding military and historic museums in the nation. However, if we are to attract new generations of Americans to Patriots Point and remain competitive in the museum field, we must meet the standards and customer demands of the 21st century."

"The Patriots Point Development Authority Board is anticipating an interactive, technology-driven, first person experience that will touch all of the human senses and create an emotional attachment to the Yorktown as only can be imagined today. This will allow us to achieve our mission to honor veterans from all branches of service and conflicts – particularly the US Navy – while educating successive generations about the importance of sacrifice in order that we may remain a free nation. Our exhibits will tell the stories of our sailors and airmen and bring 'The Fighting Lady' to life. It will be educational, inspiring, exciting and entertaining."

"With the completion of our Yorktown Museum Experience Master Plan, the recent restoration of the USS Laffey, and the construction of the National Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point, we will become a national destination within five to seven years. The implementation of our Museum Experience Master Plan will create additional financial resources so we can allocate most, if not all, of our land lease revenue to the maintenance and restoration of our ships. This is a key component of our vision with this Master Plan," said Susan Marlowe, boardmember and chair of the Museum and Education Service Committee.

"While I hope and anticipate that our Board will approve significant revenue from our budgets in the coming years, we are counting on our partnership with the USS Yorktown Association and the Patriots Point Foundation to generate gifts, donations, sponsorships and naming rights to fund at least half of the cost of this five-year program. The Master Plan means a new chapter in the storied life of Patriots Point and the historic USS Yorktown," Chandler concluded.