BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA
Wilmington, North Carolina
visited June, 2001
USS North Carolina (BB-55) DANFS
I arrived in Wilmington (stop #2 on the great 2001 Ship Tour) on a Tuesday afternoon (having left Norfolk and the USS Wisconsin) just ahead of the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison. A look at the radar and forecast convinced me that I didn't want to wait, so I hustled downtown to see the battleship known as "The Showboat".
The North Carolina is nested in a berth adjoining the Cape Fear River. One of the more striking parts of seeing her on first sight is that they still have one of her radar antennas rotating. It gives the ship a sense of still being alive. There is a large parking lot (fortunately, on this day I didn't have too much competition), a well-stocked gift shop - don't miss the blocks of teak from her original deck - and small snack bar. There are also alligators (or so the signs say), but I didn't see any. (That would change in Mobile...but that's another story.) The North Carolina is in wonderful material condition, a testament to her stewards. One could look at the few missing parts here and there and visualize the Navy coming for them in the 1980s when the Iowa-class ships were reactivated. In fact, the Navy did take some spare parts for the Iowas, some still in their original packaging.
The North Carolina, like some other ships, has both a 16" and a 5" turret open - and you can even explore one of her barbettes with its magazine and handling rooms. Along the way, you get to see examples of upper and lower 5" handling rooms as well.
The North Carolina is the sole survivor and lead ship from her two-ship class and an excellent example of the Navy's first "modern" battleships. She is winding up a complete re-decking as of this writing and perhaps as soon as 2007 will be towed to Norfolk for hull work while a new berth in Wilmington is prepared.
(click on thumbnails to show the larger image)
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