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