USS North Carolina (BB-55)

USS North Carolina (BB-55)

USS "North Carolina" (BB-55) was a battleship of the United States Navy, the lead ship of the two-ship and USS|Hornet|CV-8|2, "North Carolina" took a torpedo portside, convert|20|ft|m|0 below her waterline, and six of her men were killed. This torpedo originated from warship|Japanese submarine|I-19, and other torpedoes in the same salvo sank "Wasp". Skillful damage control by the crew of the "North Carolina" and the excellence of her construction prevented disaster; a 5.6 degree list was righted in as many minutes, and she maintained her station in a formation at 26 knots.

After repairs at Pearl Harbor, "North Carolina" screened "Enterprise" and "Saratoga" and covered supply and troop movements in the Solomons for much of the next year. She was at Pearl Harbor in March and April 1943 to receive advanced fire control and radar gear, and again in September, to prepare for the Gilbert Islands operation.

Central Pacific campaigns, 1943–44

With USS|Enterprise|CV-6|2, in the Northern Covering Group, "North Carolina" sortied from Pearl Harbor 10 November for the assault on Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama. Air strikes began 19 November, and for ten days mighty air blows were struck to aid marines ashore engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War. Supporting the Gilberts campaign and preparing the assault on the Marshalls, "North Carolina's" highly accurate big guns bombarded Nauru 8 December, destroying air facilities, beach defense revetments, and radio installations. Later that month, she protected USS|Bunker Hill|CV-17|2 in strikes against shipping and airfields at Kavieng, New Ireland and in January 1944 joined the Fast Carrier Striking Force (TF 58), Rear Admiral Marc Mitscher in command, at Funafuti, Ellice Islands.

During the assault and capture of the Marshall Islands, "North Carolina" illustrated the classic battleship functions of World War II. She screened carriers from air attack in pre-invasion strikes as well as during close air support of troops ashore, beginning with the initial strikes on Kwajalein 29 January. She fired on targets at Namur and Roi, where she sank a cargo ship in the lagoon. The battlewagon then protected carriers in the massive air strike on Truk, the Japanese fleet base in the Carolines, where 39 large ships were left sunk, burning, or uselessly beached, and 211 planes were destroyed, another 104 severely damaged. Next she fought off an air attack against the flattops near the Marianas 21 February splashing an enemy plane, and the next day again guarded the carriers in air strikes on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. During much of this period she was flagship for Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Willis A. Lee, Jr., Commander Battleships Pacific.

With Majuro as her base, "North Carolina" joined in the attacks on Palau and Woleai 31 March – 1 April, shooting down another enemy plane during the approach phase. On Woleai, 150 enemy aircraft were destroyed along with ground installations. Support for the capture of the Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) area of New Guinea followed (13 April – 24 April); then another major raid on Truk (29 April – 30 April), during which "North Carolina" splashed yet another enemy aircraft. At Truk, "North Carolina"'s planes were catapulted to rescue an American aviator downed off the reef. After one plane had turned over on landing and the other, having rescued all the airmen, had been unable to take off with so much weight, USS|Tang|SS-306|2 saved all involved. The next day "North Carolina" destroyed coastal defense guns, antiaircraft batteries, and airfields at Ponape. The battleship then sailed to repair her rudder at Pearl Harbor.

Returning to Majuro, "North Carolina" sortied with the "Enterprise's" carrier group 6 June (D-Day in Europe) for the Marianas. During the assault on Saipan, "North Carolina" not only gave her usual protection to the carriers, but starred in bombardments on the west coast of Saipan covering minesweeping operations, and blasted the harbor at Tanapag, sinking several small craft and destroying enemy ammunition, fuel, and supply dumps. At dusk on invasion day, 15 June, the battleship downed one of the only two Japanese aircraft able to penetrate the combat air patrol.

On 18 June, "North Carolina" cleared the islands with the carriers to confront the Japanese 1st Mobile Fleet, tracked by submarines and aircraft for the previous four days. Next day began the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and she took station in the battle line that fanned out from the carriers. American aircraft succeeded in downing most of the Japanese raiders before they reached the American ships, and "North Carolina" shot down two of the few which got through.

On that day and the next American air and submarine attacks, with the fierce antiaircraft fire of such ships as "North Carolina", virtually ended any future threat from Japanese naval aviation: three carriers were sunk, two tankers damaged so badly they were scuttled, and all but 36 of the 430 planes with which the Japanese had begun the battle were destroyed. The loss of trained aviators was irreparable, as was the loss of skilled aviation maintenance men in the carriers. Not one American ship was lost, and only a handful of American planes failed to return to their carriers.

Western Pacific campaigns, 1944–45

After supporting air operations in the Marianas for another two weeks, "North Carolina" sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard. She rejoined the carriers off Ulithi 7 November as a furious typhoon struck the group. The ships fought through the storm and carried out air strikes against western Leyte, Luzon, and the Visayas to support the struggle for Leyte. During similar strikes later in the month, "North Carolina" fought off her first kamikaze attack.

As the pace of operations in the Philippines intensified, "North Carolina" guarded carriers while their planes kept the Japanese aircraft on Luzon airfields from interfering with the invasion convoys which assaulted Mindoro 15 December. Three days later the task force again sailed through a violent typhoon, which capsized several destroyers. With Ulithi now her base, "North Carolina" screened wide-ranging carrier strikes on Formosa, the coast of Indo-China and China, and the Ryūkyūs in January, and similarly supported strikes on Honshū the next month. Hundreds of enemy aircraft were destroyed which might otherwise have resisted the assault on Iwo Jima, where "North Carolina" bombarded and provided call fire for the assaulting Marines through 22 February.

Strikes on targets in the Japanese home islands laid the ground-work for the Okinawa assault, in which "North Carolina" played her dual role, of bombardment and carrier screening. Here, on 6 April, she downed three kamikazes, but took a 5-inch hit from a friendly ship during the melee of antiaircraft fire. Three men were killed and 44 wounded. Next day came the last desperate sortie of the Japanese Fleet, as warship|Japanese battleship|Yamato, the largest battleship in the world, came south with her attendants. The "Yamato", as well as a cruiser and a destroyer, were sunk, three other destroyers were damaged so badly that they were scuttled, and the remaining four destroyers returned to their fleet base at Sasebo badly damaged. On the same day "North Carolina" splashed an enemy plane, and she shot down two more 17 April.

After overhaul at Pearl Harbor, "North Carolina" rejoined the carriers for a month of air strikes and naval bombardment on the Japanese home islands. Along with guarding the carriers, "North Carolina" fired on major industrial plants near Tokyo, and her scout plane pilots performed a daring rescue of a downed carrier pilot under heavy fire in Tokyo Bay.

"North Carolina" sent both sailors and members of her Marine Detachment ashore for preliminary occupation duty in Japan immediately at the close of the war, and patrolled off the coast until anchoring in Tokyo Bay 5 September to re-embark her men. Carrying passengers from Okinawa, "North Carolina" sailed for home, reaching the Panama Canal 8 October. She anchored at Boston 17 October, and after overhaul at New York exercised in New England waters and carried United States Naval Academy midshipmen for a summer training cruise in the Caribbean.

"North Carolina" received 15 battle stars for World War II service.

Decommissioning and battleship memorial

Infobox_nrhp | name =USS "North Carolina" (Battleship)
nrhp_type =nhl

caption = The USS "North Carolina" Battleship Memorial, seen from downtown Wilmington, across a stretch of the Cape Fear River.
location= Wilmington, North Carolina
lat_degrees = 34
lat_minutes = 14
lat_seconds = 12
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 77
long_minutes = 56
long_seconds = 34
long_direction = W
locmapin = North Carolina
area =
built =1941
architect= Brooklyn Navy Yard
designated= 14 January 1986cite web|url=
title=USS NORTH CAROLINA (Battleship) |accessdate=2007-10-03|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
added = 10 November 1982cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
governing_body = State
After inactivation, she was decommissioned at New York 27 June 1947. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register 1 June 1960, "North Carolina" was transferred to the people of North Carolina 6 September 1961. She was purchased from the US Navy for $330,000 raised by North Carolinian school children. In 1961 a fleet of tugboats was used to maneuver the convert|728|ft|m|sing=on ship through an area of the river convert|500|ft|m|0 wide. During this move the ship struck Fergus' Ark, near Princess Street. The river based restaurant was damaged severely and ceased operation. [] On 29 April 1962, she was dedicated at Wilmington, North Carolina as a memorial to North Carolinians of all services killed in World War II and may be visited to this day.

The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: USS North Carolina Photo set (13 photos, exterior and interior, from 1946 and 1981–1984)] |1.52 MiB |date=undated |publisher=National Park Service]

Visitors to the USS "North Carolina" Battleship Memorial can tour the main deck of the ship, many interior rooms, and some of the gun turrets. Various events are held at the memorial, and some spaces may be rented for special events. A Roll of Honor in the Wardroom lists the names of North Carolinians who gave their lives in service in all the branches of the military during World War II. The site also features a gift shop, visitors center and picnic area.

The memorial is administered by the USS "North Carolina" Battleship Commission which was established by statutes of the State of North Carolina in 1960. The memorial relies upon its own revenues as well as donations and does not receive any tax revenues.

In 1999, a reunion was held on the USS "North Carolina" Battleship Memorial. While standing on the signal bridge, the site of the friendly fire strike during the Okinawa assault of 6 April, former PFC Marine Gunner Richard R. Fox recalled the incident, describing to his daughters and granddaughters how he helped carry a severely injured sailor down to the sickbay. Fox had never been able to find out whether the other man had survived. During his story, Fox was approached by fellow USS "North Carolina" veteran Richard W. Reed, who had overheard the story and interrupted it to identify himself as the injured sailor and offer his thanks. Neither man had known the other's identity for over a half-century. [ [ Letters: Rescued, rescuer reunited - Press-Telegram ] ]

In 2005, The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) visited the USS "North Carolina" to investigate reports that the ship was haunted. These reports were given by the ship's nightwatchman, Danny Bradshaw, who looks after the vessel after it closes. []

Several near-term restoration projects are planned which will not require closure of the memorial. The next major restoration project for the "North Carolina" is a refit of her hull. This may require the ship to leave Wilmington for several months and be towed to the nearest suitable drydock in Norfolk, Virginia. [ [ Battleship North Carolina - Ongoing Projects ] ]


*The History Channel. "Battle 360°: USS Enterprise - Jaws of the Enemy (episode 3)"

ee also

*Museum ship
*List of museum ships

External links

* [ NAVSOURCE Photo Gallery: Numerous photos of USS "North Carolina"]
* [ "USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial" home]
* [ Navy photos of "North Carolina"]
* [ Battleship NC: Military Heritage On The Cape Fear River]
* [ USS "North Carolina"]
* [ Maritimequest USS "North Carolina" Photo Gallery]
* [ HNSA Ship Page: USS North Carolina]
* [ USS "North Carolina" Video]

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