Sunday, December 28, 2014

Battleship North Carolina

The Battleship North Carolina is a great family friendly adventure in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ashley and I, on our 2014 trip to North Carolina, had the opportunity to explore the Battleship North Carolina. The Battleship North Carolina is a place you can literally spend hours soaking in the history of WWII and the stories of the sailors who served on the Battleship North Carolina. The Battleship North Carolina is is a fun family friendly adventure that we would highly recommend visiting for those traveling to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Directions to Trailhead: The Battleship North Carolina is located at 1 Battleship Road, Wilmington, NC 28401. If you are coming from the Raleigh/Durham area, follow I-40 East towards Wilmington. Take exit 416A (I-140/US 17 South) towards Myrtle Beach. Take the Battleship Memorial/ Wilmington exit, at the end of the off ramp, bear right onto US 421 South to follow the Battleship Memorial signs. For more information on directions, click Here. The Battleship North Carolina is open every day of the year, including all holidays, as she serves as a memorial. Summer Hours: Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, except Independence Day (4th of July) when the ship closes at 5:00 pm for enforcement of firework safety zone. Winter Hours: Tuesday following Labor Day through the Thursday before Memorial Day: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, except Christmas Day when the ship opens at noon. Ticket sales end one hour before closing time and the rates when we visited were as follows: Adults: 12 and over: $12.00; Seniors: 65 and over: $10.00; Military: Active or retired with military ID: $10.00 (Does not include dependents); Children: 6 through 11: $6.00; Children: 5 and under: Free; and Friends of the Battleship Members: Free. For more information on group or school rates, click Here. There was no cost for parking when we visited.

Description of Hike: The tour of the Battleship North Carolina traverses much of the entire ship.  It travels up and down through the use of multiple sets of stairs and provides a great overview of the entire battleship. Obviously, this hike is a little different than the others on our hiking blog because this is a historical hike. The tour of the Battleship North Carolina is self-guided. It is well-marked and easy to follow which allows you to complete the tour at your own pace. Ashley and I would recommend allowing at least two hours for the tour, but for the true enthusiast, you can spend much more than that enjoying the battleship. The tour starts immediately at the visitor center right after you purchase your ticket. The visitor center houses a general historical overview of the Battleship North Carolina as well as a history of the navy. You get a chance to view an introductory movie in the auditorium in the visitor center, before heading up the gangway to board the Battleship North Carolina. Once on on the Battleship North Carolina, you begin your tour on the fantail section of the battleship, where the kingfisher sea plane is located. In all you follow the arrows around the battleship through 9 levels of the ship on your tour. Some of the highlights of the battleship are the 16 inch gun turret, the mess deck, the engine room, the 16 inch powder magazines and projectile storage area, the bridge and the sick bay. There are numerous exhibits on the battleship with many information placards. You can really learn a lot of history on your visit to the Battleship North Carolina.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our visit to the Battleship North Carolina. My sister (Danielle), mom (Debbie) and dad (Harry) also joined us on this adventure. We visited during the summer time, just remember the ship has no air conditioning, so dress appropriately. Given the large amount of stair climbing on the ship we would recommend wearing closed toed shoes, not sandals. Stroller and wheelchair accessibility is limited to only the main deck of the Battleship North Carolina.

Here are some statistics on the Battleship North Carolina: Standard displacement, 1942: 36,600; Full displacement, 1942: 44,800; Length: 729 feet; Beam: 108 feet; Speed: 28 knots; Horsepower, ahead: 121,000; Complement: 144 officers; 2,115 enlisted; 85 marines; Main battery: nine 16-inch/45 cal, Secondary: twenty 5-inch/38 cal; Antiaircraft: fifteen quad 40mm guns; 20mm single and twin mounts varied from 36 to 53 guns; Built: New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York; Keel laid: October 27, 1937; Commissioned: April 9, 1941; Decommissioned: June 27, 1947; and Dedicated as a Memorial: April 29, 1962. The ship's main armor belt has 12 inches of armor included at 15 degrees tapering to 6.6 inches. It is mounted onto .75 inches of special treatment steel.

The Battleship North Carolina saw significant action in Pacific Theatre. The Battleship North Carolina joined the long island-hopping campaign against the Japanese by assisting in the landing of U.S. Marines on the islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi on 7 August 1942, thus beginning the long battle for Guadalcanal. The only battleship in the naval force in the South Pacific, she escorted the aircraft carriers Saratoga, Enterprise and Wasp, surrounded by their cruisers and destroyers. After helping to screen the Enterprise in the air support force for the amphibious landing, the North Carolina guarded the carrier during her mission of protecting the supply and communication lines to the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal. The Battleship North Carolina was hit by a torpedo on September 15, 1942. The enormous blast shook the Ship and crew and sent geysers of oil and water skyward. Tons of water quickly flooded through the enormous 32 x 18 foot torpedo hole. The water caused the Ship to list. The crew quickly righted the Ship by intentionally flooding compartments on the opposite side. Five men were unfortunately killed and 23 men were wounded. For more information in the torpedoing of the Battleship North Carolina, click Here.

After inactivation, the Battleship North Carolina was decommissioned in New York on June 27, 1947. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1960, she was transferred to the state of North Carolina on September 6, 1961. She was purchased from the U.S. Navy for $330,000 raised by the efforts of North Carolina school children, who saved their spare change and lunch money for the "Save Our Ship" campaign. In 1961, a fleet of tugboats maneuvered the 728 ft (222 m) ship through a stretch of the Cape Fear River 500 ft (150 m) wide. During this the ship struck the restaurant "Fergus' Ark", a former U.S. Army troopship docked near Princess Street. It was damaged severely and ceased operation. On April 29, 1962, she was dedicated at Wilmington as a memorial to North Carolinians of all services killed in World War II. Th Battleship North Carolina was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The memorial is administered by the North Carolina Battleship Commission, established by state statute in 1960. The memorial operates tax free, relying upon its own revenues and donations.

Ashley and I really enjoyed our visit to the Battleship North Carolina and we look forward to visiting again. The battleship is really located in a beautiful area of Wilmington, North Carolina. While on the ship you have great views of the Cape Fear River and the restaurants and shops along the river way in Wilmington. Next time we visit this area we hope to explore the riverfront area of Wilmington.

Rating: When visiting the Battleship North Carolina, it is important to keep in mind that the ship was made for war, not comfort. You will have to climb stairways and travel through tight quarters in locations throughout the ship. Anticipate walking a lot while visiting the Battleship North Carolina.

Time to Complete Hike: To fully explore all the Battleship North Carolina has to offer it will take you about a half a day, but we recommend at a minimum 2 hours to explore the battleship.

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