A Maritime Haunting – The Ghosts of the USS Yorktown (CV-10)
The USS Yorktown (CV-10) is an Essex class aircraft carrier that was named in commemoration of the sunken USS Yorktown (CV-5), which was destroyed during the Battle of Midway in 1942. Built in 1941 and first launched in 1943, she served in the Pacific Theater in WWII, earning eleven battle stars, and again in the Vietnam War, earning five more.
She’s a bit of a movie star, having been used in films like Tora! Tora! Tora! and the Philadelphia Experiment, in addition to the documentary The Fighting Lady. She was even a recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission.
The United States Navy donated the USS Yorktown to the Patriot’s Point Development Authority in 1974, and she is now part of the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum located in Mount Pleasant—just across the Cooper River from downtown Charleston. In 1986, she was declared a National Historic Landmark.
She’s also allegedly haunted.
The staff at the museum has witnessed all kinds of activity, including apparitions so clear that they were identifiable as members of the ship’s crew. Sightings have been reported by the museum staff, of course, but visitors and even police officers have seen all kinds of unexplained stuff. Weird things have been seen just about everywhere on the ship—on the hangar deck, the flight deck, the engine rooms, the restrooms, the officers’ staterooms, the weapons locker area—all over.
In total, 141 men died aboard the USS Yorktown, though it appears some are still there. To the right is a photo taken by William Butterfield in August, 2008. This is a photo of the ship’s radar room. Understand that there is a pane of glass between the photographer and the room, and when you’re aware of this, it’s easy to dismiss what’s seen in the photo as a simple reflection, perhaps of Butterfield, himself. But Butterfield has said that he was alone when he took the picture. He has also said that he was not wearing the heavy, long-sleeved shirt shown in the photo. August temperatures in Charleston are easily in the mid- to high-80s, with heat indexes approaching 100°F. As a former resident, I can tell you that anyone who would wear a heavy shirt during a South Carolina August would have to be nuts.
This year, Mac Burdette, the Executive Director of the museum, asked The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.) to investigate due to the sheer volume of activity experienced on the ship. But it was important that the investigation be conducted respectfully, with reverence to the individuals who served aboard the USS Yorktown. “We hold the men who served and died aboard the USS Yorktown in the highest esteem and we would never, ever do anything to disrespect their service,” he said.
T.A.P.S. investigated in February, 2012. What they experienced was pretty remarkable. With the museum closed, and all power to the ship turned off, the eight-person team split into pairs, and began searching the ship to confirm…or debunk…what was reported. Their full investigation aired on the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters on May 2, 2012.
The T.A.P.S. crew wasn’t disappointed. In addition to the expected unexplained noises, they caught full-body apparitions, conversations, laughter, even physical contact…and that was just in the first half of the episode. One of the specters was spotted on the flight deck where a plane had crashed, killing three crewmen.
You can see the episode here. Very interesting stuff.
But is it true? Who knows? You’ll have to visit. Tickets for Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum can be purchased daily from 9am to 5pm. It’s an incredible museum, and well worth the trip, even without the ghost sightings.
A Japanese Dive Bomber attacked the Yorktown in 1945:
Hills, W. (2009, March 18). Japanese bomb and ghost bomb strike yorktown!!!. Retrieved from http://www.patriotspoint.org/news_events/japanese-bomb-and-ghost-bomb-strike-yorktown/
Butterfield, W. (2008, August). Is the uss yorktown now haunted?. Retrieved from http://www.yorktownsailor.com/yorktown/ghost.htm
Wikipedia. (2012, January 19). Uss yorktown (cv-10) panorama.jpg. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USS_Yorktown_(CV-10)_panorama.jpg
USS Yorktown in use:
Bowker, G. (2010, August 28). Patriot’s point: Naval history at its best. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/patriots-point-naval-history-at-its-best?render=print