Permanently moored as a historic site and memorial on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, the U.S.S. North Carolina is a decommissioned World War II battleship and popular tourist attraction. Weighing in at 36,000 tons and extending 728 feet in length, the retired battleship serves as a memorial of the heroism of the U.S. sailors and soldiers in World War II that hailed from North Carolina. Today, the majestic ship beckons visitors to walk her decks and take a journey back in time to envision life on deck during the Second World War and the fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre.
The U.S.S. North Carolina was commissioned and built in 1937 and was the first American battleship to be constructed in two decades. The vessel was fitted out with the latest in shipbuilding technology and carried a main battery of nine 16 in (410 mm)/45 caliber Mark 6 guns. She was so impressive during her sea trials; she earned the lasting nickname of ‘Showboat.’ Vast and graceful with a streamlined structure and a long sweeping flush deck, the U.S.S. North Carolina took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War, earning no less than 15 battle stars and making her the most decorated American battleship in the war. The U.S.S. North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947 and today is elegantly moored on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington as a ship museum and memorial for those who fought in the war.
After being taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1960, the U.S.S. North Carolina was transferred to the state of North Carolina in 1961. The ship was moved up the Cape Fear River by a fleet of tugboats, during which time it struck the floating restaurant the ‘Fergus' Ark,’ severely damaging it and putting the restaurant out of business. On 29 April 1962, the U.S.S. North Carolina was dedicated as a memorial to all the North Carolinians who served and were killed in World War II. The battleship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Moored at near downtown Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial is now a museum that can be visited and explored by the public on self-guided tours. Tours of the ship are available and explore the ship's main deck, interior compartments, and two of her three 16" gun turrets. Visitors can also enjoy an in-depth look at an OS2U Kingfisher aircraft, one of nine which survived that were salvaged from a mountainside in British Columbia in 1964 and restored and now rest near the stern of the ship. Various events are held at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial throughout the year, including the annual July 4th Battleship Blast Fireworks show held in the adjacent battleship park, Batty Battleship's Halloween Bash, Memorial Day Observance, and Ghost Ship.
Located opposite Wilmington's historic waterfront on the Cape Fear River, the U.S.S. North Carolina is open to visitors daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter. Visitors can explore the ship on a well-marked self-guided tour, beginning with a movie in the auditorium, followed by a stroll through the exhibit hall to look at memorabilia, photographs, and oral histories and venturing around the remaining nine levels of the ship. Visitors can explore the pilot house, gun decks, crew’s quarters, sick bay, galley, engine room, Kingfisher float plan, and more.
Eagles Island, Wilmington, N.C. 28402-0480, Phone: 910-251-5797
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