13 February 2015

FBF: 16-inch guns

Here in Wilmington, like many littoral cities, we have a warship. Ours is appropriately, the USS NORTH CAROLINA.  The battleship is moored on the Cape Fear river, as if keeping watch over downtown Wilmington, her 16-inch guns pointed upward in steadfast repose.

During World War II, NORTH CAROLINA participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations, including Guadalcanal, Luzon and Iwo Jima, and earned 15 battle stars. all 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.  By war’s end, the Ship lost only ten men in action and had 67 wounded.

And, of course, the Marines were there: “The Marine Detachment was in the Gunnery Department. The Marines stood lookout watch and in battle manned 20mm and (provided officers in two) 40mm mounts. (They also manned a 5-inch mount early in the ship’s career.) In port the Marines were responsible for the security of the ship.  All Marines were trained in ship to shore operations, so we were prepared to be a landing force. This was necessary near the end of the war when all Marines in our battle group transferred at sea to attack transports and went into Yokosuka, Japan.  The Marine officers also stood top gunnery watches, officer of the deck and junior officer of the deck watches, and regularly assisted in summary and general courts martials acting either as the prosecuting or defending officer.” - Captain William Romm, USMC, Marine Detachment
The Marine gunners. (photo: Battleship NC/USN Archives)
The Marine Landing Force (photo: Battleship NC/USN Archives)
After serving as a training vessel for midshipmen, NORTH CAROLINA was decommissioned 27 June 1947. In 1958 the Navy decided that it did not need the NORTH CAROLINA in the fleet. The ship was going to be sold and the new owners could melt down the ship to make other things like razors and cars. The citizens of North Carolina decided that the ship should be saved because it would make a wonderful memorial to honor the North Carolinians who died in service during World War II. A statewide campaign successfully raised $330,000 to purchase, dredge and prepare a site and have the Ship towed from New Jersey. On September 6, 1961, during a formal ceremony in Bayonne, New Jersey, the Federal Government formally handed over the 35,000 ton Battleship to the State of North Carolina. She opened to the public on October 14, 1961. (info from BattleshipNC.com)

September 2006
I have visited the ship many times, started and finished running races in its shadow and watched fireworks burst over its form. It is an important part of not just naval & military history but American history, and if you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit. (pics below are from my very first visit - click for full size)

Bwahhahaha - electricity!!
Just a little more torque.....
Hanging out in the galley....
Maneuvering the guns.
From the ship's photo archives. (Wait, what?)


  1. You appear to be a little over dressed to be maneuvering the twin 50's and I could have gone all day with out that last photo.

  2. LOL...Anything you can do in pants, I can do in a dress. And I know you've seen that last photo in the flesh on at least one MEU....(shudder)