USS North Carolina (BB-55)

USS North Carolina (BB-55) (Showboat) was the lead ship of North Carolina class battleships and the fourth warship in the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the State of North Carolina. She was the first newly-constructed American battleship to enter service during World War II, and she took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater of Operations to become the most highly decorated American battleship of World War II, accumulating 15 battle stars. The USS North Carolina is now a museum ship and memorial kept at the seaport of Wilmington, N.C.

As the first newly-designed American battleship to be built in two decades, the North Carolina was built using the latest in shipbuilding technology. Limited to a standard displacement of 35,000 long tons by both the Washington Naval Treaty and the London Naval Treaty, and to a beam of less than 110 ft by the width of the locks of the Panama Canal, and to a draft of no more than 38 ft to enable the battleship to use as many anchorages and shipyards as possible, she was a challenge to design.

Her machinery arrangement was unusual in that there were four main spaces, each with two boilers and one steam turbine connected to each of the four propeller shafts. This arrangement served to reduce the number of openings in watertight bulkheads and to conserve the space to be protected by the armor plate. The long sweeping flush deck of the North Carolina and her streamlined structure made her far more graceful than earlier battleships.

© Richard Tripp 2012