Real or not, the presence of spirits or ghosts aboard the USS Yorktown may equal much-needed cash and exposure for the struggling Mount Pleasant tourist attraction.
As many as 2 million people may have tuned in Wednesday night to watch the SyFy Channel's "Ghost Hunters" search for paranormal activity aboard the historic aircraft carrier.
Now, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is seeking to capitalize on the hour-long feature.
"From a marketing standpoint, we couldn't have paid for that sort of exposure," said Mac Burdette, the museum's executive director.
Patriots Point is planning to add at least three new tours that examine paranormal activity. The museum may add tours for families, for Boy Scouts and another tour or event specifically for hardcore ghost hunters, Burdette said.
"We're already getting calls from paranormal organizations," Burdette said. "Some of the 'Ghost Hunters' cast members, for a fee, will come back for a special expedition, and we're looking into that."
For Patriots Point, which has for years been mired by financial burdens, "Ghost Hunters" opens a new revenue stream, Burdette said.
"This isn't going to get rid of our financial struggles, but it helps," he said. "If we take any additional revenue from it, it will be more than we made last year."
So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
"It was a huge success in that we have received no negative response thus far," he said.
That's important since Patriots Point didn't want the show to come off as disrespectful to veterans or the men who died aboard the ship during its 30 years of service.
"We were very pleased with how they handled that," Burdette said.
"Ghost Hunters" said the Yorktown episode provided some of the "most compelling" paranormal evidence to date.
Belief in ghosts aside, if there are spirits aboard the Yorktown they are nothing to fear, Burdette said. In fact, their presence could infuse Patriots Point with sorely needed cash. The Yorktown and the Submarine Clamagore need millions of dollars in repairs due to saltwater erosion.
"If there is something aboard the Yorktown, they are our guys," Burdette said. "If they are there, it just makes you want to work a little harder to save this place and make it something they would be proud of."