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A Blast from the PastCatherine Turner Jan 30, 2023
I spent the night on a WWII aircraft carrier. Not many people can say that – unless they’ve completed Operation Overnight onboard the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.
Operation Overnight is a unique experience to see the ship outside regular hours. Scouts, ROTC, and other visiting groups take this opportunity to tour the ship and touch living history firsthand. After a night of exploration and sleep in WWII-era arrangements, the groups can take educational tours: There are two in operation: “Live Like a Sailor” or “Be a Naval Aviator.” Up to 300 participants can sign up for this program each week.
I used to work in the camping office around five years ago. Seeing the ship at night and talking with campers was one of my favorite experiences! But this time, I got to be the camper.
Here’s a little about my adventure.
Onboarding: the process of welcoming between 100-300 guests onboard the USS Yorktown. Here’s a picture to prove it! Four groups were visiting the night that I stayed.
Once the campers have their orientation about safety and scheduling, the staff show them their accommodations.
There are four berthing compartments onboard the USS Yorktown. My coworker, Mary, and I got to stay in a bunk room. Traditionally, that’s where the junior officers during WWII would’ve roomed.
It was truly authentic! The room smelled and appeared as if I had time-traveled back to the 1940s. Here’s proof – I had to take pictures for bragging rights!
Ever since I saw “Night at the Museum” as a kid, I’ve been obsessed with seeing what a museum is like when all the regular visitors are gone.
For anyone participating in Operation Overnight, I’d recommend these activities.
- Walk tours 1, 3, and 4 slowly. You’ll never have this undisturbed experience again. But watch out for the mannequins. They will be hanging out in places you might not expect.
- Ask Operation Overnight staff to show you where typical tourists can’t go. You might glimpse the fo’c’sle on a lucky day or have a hands-on experience with authentic WWII equipment.
- Catch a glimpse of the marina at night by heading toward the fantail near Hanger Bay 3. It’s a great photo spot to watch the sunrise and sunset!
And don’t forget to complete a scavenger hunt as you walk around – copies are available in the Operation Overnight office.
The Next Day
No ship experience is authentic without the sound of reveille at 6:30 in the morning. Thankfully, the Operation Overnight staff provides coffee.
The next day is a great time for campers to participate in educational activities and in-depth tours!
- A brief plug for the Captain’s Tour: it provides access to three off-tour areas of the ship. First, the fo’c’sle. Next, the interior of the B-25 bomber. And finally, the captain’s and admiral’s quarters. It’s pretty amazing!
No experience onboard the USS Yorktown rivals the uniqueness of this program. There are only five WWII aircraft carrier museums in the United States.
Are you interested in signing up a group? For more information, see our webpage here.
Patriots Point Operation Overnight – Patriots Point
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