WILMINGTON, NC - As officially proclaimed by the City of Wilmington, October 2, 2011, is Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Day.
The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA came to Wilmington, NC, on October 2, 1961 and opened the public on October 14 in that same year. As a thank you to the community for the continued support, on this 50 year anniversary date, the Battleship will open to the public at 1961 prices. That is 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for kids. Admission will be cash only.
Other events of the day include that are included with admission are:
8:00 am - 12:00 pm: Battleship Alive
Watch and interact with World War II living history interpreters as they bring the Ship to life by re-enacting daily duties & drills.
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm: Reflection Ceremony
Executive Director of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Captain Terry Bragg, will speak to the community on the history and the future of the Battleship. Ceremony will include presentation of colors, National Anthem as performed by the Cape Fear Chordsmen and other medleys provided by Beach Music Barbershop Quartet .
Conclusion of the program will be commenced with a fly-by of the Spirit of North Carolina, a World War II Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft.
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm: The Imitations
Listen to the music of the 60's as local band The Imitations takes it back in time.
5:00 pm: Taps
A reflection of the past 50 years and a look into the next 50 years of making history for the Battleship, a solo Bugler will perform Taps to commence the anniversary date.
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
When the keel of NORTH CAROLINA was laid in October of 1937, she was the first battleship to be constructed in sixteen years. She became the first of ten fast battleships to join American fleet in World War II. NORTH CAROLINA (BB 55) and her sister ship, WASHINGTON (BB 56), comprised the NORTH CAROLINA Class. Following them were the SOUTH DAKOTA Class - SOUTH DAKOTA (BB 57), INDIANA (BB 58), MASSACHUSETTS (BB 59), and ALABAMA (BB 60) - and the IOWA Class - IOWA (BB 61), NEW JERSEY (BB 62), MISSOURI (BB 63), and WISCONSIN (BB 64).
At the time of her commissioning on 9 April 1941, she was considered the world's greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, NORTH CAROLINA proved a formidable weapons platform. Her wartime complement consisted of 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including about 100 Marines.
During World War II, NORTH CAROLINA participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations and earned 15 battle stars. In the Battle of the Eastern Solomon's in August of 1942, the Battleship's anti-aircraft barrage helped save the carrier ENTERPRISE, thereby establishing the primary role of the fast battleship as protector of aircraft carriers. One of her Kingfisher pilots performed heroically during the strike on Truk when he rescued ten downed Navy aviators on 30 April 1944. In all, NORTH CAROLINA carried out nine shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship, destroyed at least 24 enemy aircraft, and assisted in shooting down many more. Her anti-aircraft guns helped halt or frustrate scores of attacks on aircraft carriers. She steamed over 300,000 miles. Although Japanese radio announcements claimed six times that NORTH CAROLINA had been sunk, she survived many close calls and near misses with one hit when a Japanese torpedo slammed into the Battleship's hull on 15 September 1942. A quick response on the part of the crew allowed the mighty ship to keep up with the fleet. By war's end, the Ship lost only ten men in action and had 67 wounded.
After serving as a training vessel for midshipmen, NORTH CAROLINA was decommissioned 27 June 1947 and placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet in Bayonne, New Jersey, for the next 14 years. In 1958 the announcement of her impending scrapping led to a statewide campaign by citizens of North Carolina to save the ship from the scrappers torches and bring her back to her home state. The Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign was successful and the Battleship arrived in her current berth on 2 October 1961. She was dedicated on 29 April 1962 as the State's memorial to its World War II veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during the war.