We must have this ship back in three days!
Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz
On Labor Day we honor the American worker and the repair of the USS Yorktown tells us why. Badly damaged at the battle of the Coral Sea, it was estimated that the Yorktown would take three months in drydock to repair. That was unacceptable. With the battle of Midway looming the Yorktown had to be gotten back into action if the US was to have any chance at all against the Japanese fleet with its heavy advantage in flattops.
What happened next was a true miracle. 1400 civilian dockyard workers and sailors swarmed over the Yorktown, working night and day for 72 hours. Hawaii Electric staged rolling blackouts in Honolulu to generate the enormous power necessary for the mammoth repairs. The Yorktown sailed for Midway on May 30, 1942 with civilian workers still on board, completing the repairs. At Midway, four days later, Yorktown’s role in the victory was absolutely crucial, her planes sending the Japanese carrier Soryu to the bottom before the Yorktown herself was sunk.
When Americans look back at that victory they should remember the American workers who were essential to that victory and the miracle they performed in three days and nights of non stop work on the Yorktown.