USS North Carolina

Since we are in sort of a naval arms race, thought I’d escalate with some views of the USS North Carolina (BB-55)

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The battleship currently occupies a berth on the Cape Fear River, opposite Wilmington, North Carolina.  The USS North Carolina was lead ship of a class of two (the other being the USS Washington), and the first capital ship built for the Navy after the “battleship holiday” of the 1920s.  The North Carolina set standards for the US Navy’s last generation of battleships, but was limited by the Washington and London Naval Treaties.   Laid down in 1937, she was not commissioned until April 1940.  At that time she was the grandest ship in the Navy and earned the nickname “showboat” due to the lavish attention garnered in the press.

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Main armament of 16-inch/45-caliber guns sat in three triple turrets…

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…fed from magazines deep in the ship’s hold.

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Secondary armament was twenty 5-inch guns arranged in dual-purpose twin turrets.

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At the time of launch, the North Carolina featured the best protection on any ship afloat, with belt armor at a 16-inch maximum thickness.

After a tour in the Atlantic early during World War II, the North Carolina joined operations around Guadalcanal in August 1942.  In the closely contested carrier battles, the battleship provided an anti-aircraft umbrella over the valuable CVs.   But a submarine torpedo put her out of action for a few months (and the same spread of torpedoes sank the carrier USS Wasp).

Upon returning to action, the battleship bristled with 40mm…

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…and 20mm anti-aircraft guns.

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Throughout World War II, the North Carolina retained OS2U Kingfisher spotting planes.

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But operating alongside the fast carriers, these became redundant in most regards.

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Personally I was most impressed with the rather ample coffee pots.  As an old Mech Army guy, I never had more than a thermos.  The Navy is considerably more advanced in the coffee dispensing field.

The North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947 and held in reserve until 1962.   The state of North Carolina purchased the battleship (for $330,000 according to one report) that year, transforming her into a memorial to North Carolinians who died in World War II.   As with any old ship, the North Carolina suffers from wear and the elements.  Recently teams restored the teak deck, in part with a gift of wood from Myanmar (Burma to us older types).   In the near future, plans call for a coffer dam around the ship to effect repairs on the hull.  Those repairs will follow similar work done recently on the USS Alabama.

Now let me get back to the tanks… else this will become XBrad’s battleship blog!

– Craig

10 thoughts on “USS North Carolina”

  1. The Navy does do Coffee quite well, even if it doesn’t taste great. I remember the main urn on the mess decks going down with about a week to go on one Med cruise. Things were very tense on board until we pulled back into Naples. The Captain led a party to NSA Naples for a new one as soon as we got tied up.

  2. The NORTH CAROLINA class was a much better class than the follow up SOUTH DAKOTA class, which tried to put all the abilities of a 728 foot NORTH CAROLINA into a 680 foot hull. While in many ways successful, the SOUTH DAKOTAs were very cramped, with rather poor habitability, and constricted machinery spaces, which made them hard to maintain.

    It was a NORTH CAROLINA, the USS WASHINGTON, that won the only fast battleship vs fast battleship duel that ever happened, the duel with HIJMS KIRISHIMA, at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Washington made at least nine 16″/45 hits, out of 75 fired. NORTH CAROLINA and her sister were superb warships. But BB 64, The Big Badger Boat, was better.

  3. They used to do a great show at night that was part historical narrative and part light-show. Anyone know if they still do this?

  4. SOUTH DAKOTA actually knocked herself out. The CHENG had lashed the circut breakers down, and the recoil of the 16″/45s tripped them. Because they were lashed down, they overloaded, and the backup fuses blew, leaving the SOUTH DAKOTA without electrical power. See Ivan Musicant’s book on the USS WASHINGTON, Battleship at War.

    1. StB, while that is true to a fair extent, read the post-op DC report. It’s in CDR Salamander’s archives somewhere. She took a pretty fair beating from the Japanese as well. Not enough to sink her, but enough to be of some concern.

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