Monday, October 15, 2012

The Hawthornes Visit Battleship North Carolina In Wilmington, North Carolina..

The Hawthornes are in Wilmington
 to visit Battleship North Carolina.
The USS North Carolina is moored in the Cape Fear River 
across from downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.
The USS North Carolina, commissioned in 1941,
was the greatest naval weapon in the world at that time.
She distinguished herself by serving
 in every major naval offensive
 in the Pacific theater in World War II,
earning 15 battle stars,
making her the most decorated battleship
of the Second World War.
Battle stars were commendations during World War II
that were issued to U.S. Navy warships for
laudable participation in battle
or for having suffered damage during battles.

At the time of her commissioning in April 1941,
she was considered the world's most potent sea weapon,
offering a formidable weapons platform.
Her wartime complement consisted of 
144 commissioned offers and 2195 enlisted men.

In July 1942,  the USS North Carolina 
steamed into Pearl Harbor.
And she stopped everything.
Men stopped working and ran out to see her.
Ships sent flags up and down their masts
to salute her arrival.
She was impressive.
She stood 155 feet high with a 108-foot girth
and stretched 729 feet long, 
sporting nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets
(the largest ever on a United States ship)
and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts.

During her commission, Battleship North Carolina,
devastated the enemy.
She downed 24 enemy aircraft herself.
In heavy combat, she sank an enemy troopship
and assisted in kicking the ass of countless others
and she took part in nine bombardments
of Japanese shore positions.
She was a noted protector of the aircraft carrier,
USS Enterprise at the Battle of the Eastern Solomon's,
with her anti-aircraft guns saving the vital carrier
from destruction by Japanese planes.

The Japanese reported her sunk six times,
as if saying something enough makes it true.

Protecting her crew,
from her first battle to the Japanese surrender in August 1945,
only 67 men were injured and only 10 died.
She earned the nickname "Immortal Showboat."
Not only a weapon of war and violence,
she was a second home to her men.

In June 1947, Battleship North Carolina was decommissioned
and placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet in Bayonne, New Jersey,
for the next 14 years.

Coast Guard ship across the harbor.

NORTH CAROLINA is an authentically restored World War II battleship, a National Historic Landmark, and a memorial honoring the 10,000 North Carolinians of all branches who gave their lives in World War II.

In Memoriam
The USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial
commemorates the heroic participation of the
men and women of North Carolina
in the prosecution and victory of the second World War
and perpetuates the memory of the more than 
ten thousand North Carolinians
 who gave their lives in that war.
USS North Carolina 
has been designated a
National Historic Landmark.
This site possesses national significance
in commemorating the history of the
United States of America
National Park Service
United States Department of the Interior

 This is the Vought-Sikorsky X0S2U monoplane, nicknamed The Kingfisher by Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet.. It was a specialty plane of the war, providing a speedy and efficient way to scout out enemy aircraft and submarines.  The plane needed to be rugged and dependable enough to withstand the rigors of ocean operation and tricky catapult launches.  The launching apparatus for the Kingfisher was a rather complicated process, involving a crane and black powder charge, and a catapult apparatus which helped propel the Kingfisher to a speed of 70 MPH. This Kingfisher is one of seven in existence.  In April 1944, one of the three Kingfishers from the USS North Carolina participated in one of the most heroic acts of World War II.  Descending though heavy barrages of enemy fire, the Kingfisher was successful in rescuing ten downed US pilots during the attack on Truk.

Statistics for the Kingfisher:
Wingspan                                                              35 feet 11 inches
Length                                                                  33 feet 7 inches
Height                                                                   15 feet 1 1/2 inches
Empty weight                                                       4560 pounds
Power plant                                                          450 HP Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN2
                                                                               air cooled radial engine
Armament                                                             Two guns: one fixed and one flexible 30 caliber
                                                                                machine gun
Ammunition                                                          500 rounds for the fixed gun
                                                                                600 rounds for the flexible gun
Ordnance                                                               100 pound bomb under each wing;
                                                                                325 pound depth charges 
Take off speed                                                      70 MPH
Cruising speed                                                      119 MPH
Landing speed                                                       55 MPH
Maximum speed                                                     171 MPH at 5000 feet
Service ceiling                                                        15,500 feet
Rate of climb                                                           800 feet per minute
Range                                                                       908 miles or approximately 6 hours
Crew                                                                         two:  pilot (officer) and radioman (enlisted)
Emergency equipment                      
                        one two-man life raft, rations, fishing kit,
                                                                                water, rubberized cover to use 
                                                                                 as a sail, shelter, or to catch rainwater

  • Spotting gunfire
  • Patrolling for enemy subs
  • Rescuing airmen
  • Towing targets for anti-aircraft batteries
  • Dropping messages to ships at sea
  • Flying mail runs to ports
  • Making flights for radar calibration
Launch and Recovery

Take off:
Two 68-foot long catapults were located on the fantail.  Launching a plane from a ship underway was an involved exercise.  Each catapult had a small cart mounted on top.
  1. Place the Kingfisher on the cart; its main float in a cradle.
  2. Steam the Ship into the wind.  The wind over the deck provides additional life for making the plane airborne.
  3. Turn the catapult over the water about 30 degrees.
  4. The pilot races the engine.  At the pilot's ready signal, a black powder charge is fired.
  5. The blast propels the catapult cart and the plane from 0 to 70 MPH, a sufficient speed for safe flight.
  6. A mechanical device at the end of the catapult abruptly stops the car.
  7. The Kingfisher, with engine at full throttle, becomes airborne.
If the Ship was in port, the seaplane was hoisted over the side and took off from the water

  • Plane lands near the Ship and is hoisted aboard while underway
  • Plane lands one mile ahead of the Ship;  Ship catches up to plane and hoists plane aboard.
  • Plane lands near anchored Ship and is hoisted aboard.
Recovering the Kingfisher seaplane at sea required great skill and teamwork.

The "Charlie" (C) flag was raised at half-mast.  The plane flew alongside the ship at a 300-foot altitude.  The flag was raised to the top of the mast.  The Ship started a 90-degree turn and the turning stern created a relatively smooth surface called a slick. The slick measured approximately 200 yards long and 100 yards wide.  The Ship's crew swung a boom over the side and lowered a 10-foot by 6-foot rope "sled" into the sea.

The aircraft began its approach.  The pilot timed his landing to hit the slick with its ocean swells at just the right moment.  He wanted to avoid landing on top of or plunging through a swell.  He taxied the plane onto the sled.  A hook on the bottom front part of the main pontoon latched onto the sled.  The aircraft engine stopped and the Ship was towing the plane.

The aircraft recovery crane swung over the plane and the hoisting hook was lowered.  The radioman left his seat to get the lifting cable stowed behind the pilot's headrest.  He attached the cable to the recovery hook suspended from the crane.  Two other cables, one in each wing, also were attached to the crane cable to steady the plane.

The crane lifted the plane from the water, hoisted it aboard, and lowered it onto an empty catapult or onto a car truck.  (The plane currently rests on a similar car truck.  Steadying lines and long fending poles were used to keep the plane from spinning and hitting the Ship.

Airplane Crane 

The crane hoisted the seaplanes from the deck to a launching car on a catapult.
It also lifted the airplanes from the water.
  • Capable of turning 360 degrees
  • Outreach of 40 feet
  • Hook speed of 110 feet per minute
  • Maximum load of 7800 pounds.

The US Navy organized fast aircraft carrier task groups to carry out missions in the Pacific Theater.  Strikes against enemy strongholds on islands were a primary mission and put pilots and their crews at great risk.  Ships, submarines, and other aircraft rescued downed airmen.

Destroyers usually picked up airmen near the task group.  Submarines picked up airmen in water closer to the targets.  The subs were stationed about five miles off shore and were protected by air cover themselves.  Kingfishers rescued airmen who landed inside island harbors or on beaches. 
With their pontoons, the Kingfishers could land on and take off from water.

Pilots of North Carolina Kingfishers performed two famous rescues during World War II.

One of the Battleship North Carolina's Kingfisher plane pilots, Commander Almon P. Oliver, recounted the  rescue of a downed US aviator from Japan, August 10, 1945:

“We were up to the north of Honshu operating in the area of Hokkaido and the northern tip of Honshu,” says Commander Oliver. “Weather was again bad: rain, fog, low ceilings, and poor visibility. Some 11 pilots had been shot down in the area of Ominato. We had the rescue duty and were prepared for a long flight into the area in the late afternoon, but it was canceled due to darkness.
Very early the next morning, we were launched to pick up pilots in the area of Ominato Bay which had an Army base on the southern part, an airfield and naval base to the north. We had escorts of four F6Fs and four F4Us, and upon arrival in the area, one of the fighters spotted a pilot on the beach waving madly. By this time, the destroyers at the naval base and anti-aircraft fire from the airfield and Army bases opened up with a fury. There was a strong wind blowing into the beach and the surf was quite high. Lieutenant Jacobs landed to pick up the pilot while I tried to dodge anti-aircraft fire.
“From my vantage point it appeared that the pilot was having difficulty getting through the surf, and the Japanese were firing what appeared to be 5-inch shells all around the plane on the water. After some time the plane started a takeoff run, but soon it was porpoising badly and unable to get airborne. I then flew alongside and discovered no pilot. What had happened was that the pilot on the beach could not get through the surf to board the plane, so Lieutenant Jacobs was standing with one foot in the cockpit and one on the wing attempting to get a line to the pilot to pull him through the surf. Jacobs lost his balance and fell into the water and in the process knocked the throttle full open.
“Now both pilots were wildly waving from the beach. I landed, taxied to the beach, blipped the engine, and with full flaps, backed through the surf onto the beach. I told Jacobs to help the other pilot into the plane and I would send help for him. This idea didn’t sit well, and I soon had two very large and very wet people crammed into the backseat. How they managed to get into the cockpit, I’ll never know, but the alternative was unacceptable at the moment.
“Recognizing that I would have difficulty with navigation, weather, and fuel with the unbalanced load I was carrying, I intended to land at sea near the rescue sub. However, after some deliberate thought, I decided to try to make it back to some ship in the fleet. Fortunately we picked up the ZB signal and made it back to the ship with no fuel left aboard. So on August 10, 1945, I picked up the first and only downed pilot from within Japan proper, not one but two.
“The war was over a few days later, and I returned home. That recovery was my last flight in an OS2U Kingfisher.”

Kingfishers took part in all major Pacific operations, landing in rough water under gunfire, searching for survivors of sunk or damaged vessels, and acting as an ambulance, transporting injured personnel from isolated islands, and dropping smoke pots, bombs, and  335-pound depth charges, sending a submarine down trailing oil and air bubbles.

American carrier planes were assaulting Truk, an island group in the southwest Pacific.  The Battleship North Carolina was protecting the carriers.  Her Kingfishers were assigned rescue duty and took to the air on the morning of April 30, 1944.  Lt (jg) J.J. Dowdle landed in Truk Lagoon to attempt a rescue.  The rough seas flipped his plane.  Lt (jg) John A. Burns landed safely and rescued the two North Carolina airmen and the stranded pilot.  He taxied to the submarine USS TANG to drop them off.

Burns and radioman Aubrey J. Gill flew away to search for three life rafts reported drifting off the island.  Burns spotted a raft with a lone fighter pilot, landed, and the pilot climbed into radioman Gill's lap.  Burns then taxied around Truk lagoon for two hours and finally located the three-man crew of a torpedo plane.  Now Burns' Kingfisher plane held six men.

Burns began to taxi through choppy seas towards the TANG, 20 miles away.  After two hours, he came upon another raft with three aviators.  He told them to tie their raft to the pontoon, but it proved impractical so the men climbed onto the Kingfisher.  Two men sat on each wing to balance the plane and the other hung on the fuselage.  Now Burns' plane held nine men.

Six hours later, the plane reached the TANG.  The Kingfisher's pontoon had ruptured and was out of fuel.  Everyone boarded the submarine and the TANG's guns destroyed the seaplane.

North Carolina lost both of her Kingfishers that day, but her heroic pilots rescued 10 men.  Burns received the Navy Cross.  He was tragically killed during a training exercise in Virginia on February 24, 1945.

One Kingfisher Saves Ten Men
On April 30, 1944, two Kingfishers were sent out to locate a Navy pilot from the carrier USS Enterprise who was reported down at sea.  The two Kingfishers, piloted by Lt. J.J. Doble and Lt. John Burns, soon spotted the downed pilot, Lt. Robert Kanze, afloat in his life raft. Doble then landed to pick Kanze up. As Kanze grabbed the wing float, he was lifted out of his raft. A wave then hit the float broadside which, with his weight on the float, submerged it and caused the Kingfisher to capsize, throwing Doble and his radioman R. E. Hill into the water.  The three were able to retrieve the raft and hold onto it.  Burns observed all of this and decided to land and pick up all three.  With five men aboard, the Kingfisher could not take off, so Burns taxied to the  submarine USS Tang that was on the surface nearby.  The sub then sank Doble�s still-floating Kingfisher by gunfire to prevent its drifting into Japanese hands.
After his three passengers were safely aboard the USS Tang, Burns got a call to go after another downed pilot, who was soon found and taken aboard. Again unable to take off, Burns decided to wait for the USS Tang to reach the scene. While he was waiting, he saw two TBM torpedo planes, each with three men aboard, ditch nearby.  With nothing else to do while waiting for the sub, Burns decided to go after the TBM crews that had taken to their rafts. He secured both rafts to the Kingfisher and tried to tow them in the direction of the now far-distant sub, but their drag was too much.  He then took the six men aboard, distributing them along the wings to balance the weight, and started taxiing.  The sub, which had gone after still another pilot, finally reached the now-sinking Kingfisher and took all nine occupants aboard.
Since there was no way in which the sub could salvage the heroic little plane that had just rescued 10 men, it, like Doble�s, was sunk by gunfire to keep it out of Japanese hands.
The following rescue, however, is perhaps the most bizarre of all, and it occurred on the last day of the war.  On August 9, 1945, Lt. Vernon T. Coumbre ditched his damaged F4U Corsair five miles off the Japanese coast after a carrier strike against the Ominato Naval Air Base. He took to his raft, which was quickly blown to shore in what was fortunately a deserted area.  He avoided Japanese searchers during the night, and heard the sounds of U.S. planes that were looking for him the next morning. Fighters kept the Japanese at a distance while two Kingfishers tried to effect a rescue. One Kingfisher, flown solo by Lt. Ralph Jacobs, landed to pick Coumbre up. Seeing that Coumbre couldn�t make it through the surf to the plane, Jacobs tried to throw him a line. A heavy wave rocked the plane, and Jacobs, with one foot still in the cockpit and one on the wing, was thrown into the water. As his foot left the cockpit, it hit the throttle and the plane began taxiing away.
The other Kingfisher, piloted by Lt. Almon P. Oliver, was circling overhead and saw all this, the runaway plane and the two swimming pilots.  Oliver then landed and picked both up, putting them in the rear cockpit.  He then flew back to his ship, the USS North Carolina, the same ship from which Lt. Burns had flown.  Jacobs� Kingfisher also was sunk by the fighters to keep it out of Japanese hands as a windup to one of the strangest and most spectacular rescues of the war.

In 1958, the Navy announced plans to scrap 
the North Carolina.
The announcement sent shock waves throughout
North Carolina.
Citizens of the state launched an SOS
(Save Our Ship) campaign to save the ship from the scrappers
and bring her back to her home state.

In 1958, the Wilmington Morning Star featured a story that the USS North Carolina, which was moored in New Jersey, would be scrapped and sold, along with a number of other vessels.  The battleship was considered obsolete in an age of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines.  A Wilmington man named James S. Craig, a World War II veteran, understood the significance of this ship and was horrified. The battleship was part of his generation's history.  He had to save the North Carolina.   

An active member of Wilmington's American Legion Post 10, Craig was effective in organizing a Post 10 Battleship Committee in January 1959 to save the USS North Carolina and bring her to Wilmington for a permanent berth.  Craig lobbied Hugh Morton, a veteran and former publicity manager of NC Governor Luther Hodges, to persuade the governor to appoint a state battleship committee and convince the Navy not to scrap the USS North Carolina. This grew into the Battleship North Carolina Commission. The state's citizens mounted a successful campaign to bring the battleship back to North Carolina and to preserve her as the state's premier war memorial.

In 1961, new governor Terry Sanford, a former WW II paratrooper, appointed Morton to chair the battleship commission. Morton courted big-name supporters for the Save Our Ship effort, one of whom was Adm. Chester Nimitz, wartime commander of the US Pacific Fleet.  Nimitz responded, praising the battleships service in the Pacific - "Her mere presence in a task force was enough to keep morale at a peak" - and endorsing the preservation of Battleship North Carolina.  Morton recalled, "Tears almost came to the eyes of some of those old Navy sea dogs at the thought of the North Carolina being cut up."

Former crew members caught wind of the Save Our Ship campaign and they were outraged that the Navy would even consider destroying their ship.  Chuck Paty, a 17-year-old serviceman from Charlotte, NC, remembered his first glimpse of the USS North Carolina.  "Oh, she was just awesome."  Paty, a radioman aboard the battleship heard about the Navy's plans to scrap the ship.
Paty recalled, "Oh, that was painful.  It's like we'd just heard that they were going to kill our parents, our mother, our father.  The feeling was that strong."  As the United States crawled out of the Great Depression, it sold shiploads of old warship scrap metal to the Japanese in the 1930s.  The Japanese made bullets from the scrap metal and then fired those bullets at Americans in WW II.  Upon hearing the news about scrapping the USS North Carolina, Paty exclaimed:
"So we imagined, the North Carolina is going to be turned back into bullets that may get fired back at us again?  No way!  We didn't want them shooting the North Carolina back at us."  Paty took action.  Although he'd never spoken in public before because of stage fright, he became a Charlotte-based spokesman for the cause, giving over a dozen speeches on behalf of the battleship.  When people asked Paty how he was able to do this, in spite of his horrific stage fright, Paty responded, "It wasn't easy.  I didn't know what it was to get up and talk to people.  But it's a whole different thing when you talk about something that you love, something that you know all about.  I was an expert on the ship.  And that's all I had to talk about.  Sailors always fall in love with their ships.  They love them as if they were people.  Like they were creatures. It has, oh gosh, a life, so to speak."

Morton planned a statewide effort, deploying forces for a major fund-raising campaign to bring the battleship from New Jersey and anchoring it in Wilmington, at an estimated cost of $250,000 -
$100,000 to condition the ship for display, $100,000 to prepare a new site, and $50,000 to tow her to a new site.  It's the equivalent of about $1.8 million today.  Gov. Hodges suggested to Morton that, instead of using money from the state, why not get North Carolina citizens involved. Morton planned on the creation of a North Carolina Navy. The statewide effort included a "fleet admiral" in each of North Carolina's 100 counties to head up local appeals. Each admiral would be responsible for seeing that their counties met a fund-raising quota.  Those people who donated $100 (equivalent to about $725 today) would be named an admiral and earn a certificate and lifetime free admission to the battleship.  Governor Sanford went a step further and suggested involving schools.  Every school child who brought in a dime received a pass for free admission.  According to battleship records, more than 700,000 children from across the state contributed.  Classrooms collected battleship money in little milk carton banks.  In the end, $330,000 was collected by the campaign, about $2.4 million in today's money.

On June 1, 1961, the battleship was formally stricken from the Navy's ship registry.  In August, North Carolina and the Navy signed an agreement, turning the USS North Carolina over to the state on permanent loan.  The government reserved the right to ask for the ship back, in case of national emergency.  On September 6, 1961, Governor Terry Sanford formally accepted the ship on behalf of North Carolina at a ceremony in Bayonne, New Jersey.

 There was also the matter of deciding the Battleship's final resting place.  Three cities were considered:  Southport, Morehead City, and Wilmington.  For Southport and Morehead City, the ocean held a beautiful natural backdrop, but hid a curse.  The cities' closeness to the ocean made the ship vulnerable to hurricanes.  Wilmington was the safest location, the one farthest from the sea.

The North Carolina began her final voyage on September 25, 1961, leaving Bayonne, with the New York city skyline in the background.  She had no power of her own.  Ocean-going tug boats hauled her to her final resting place.

On Saturday, September 30, 1961, the Battleship and its tugs were waiting off the shoals, waiting for a flood tide to enter the Cape Fear  River.  On October 2, the Battleship with its 11 tug boats, began to move up the river.

Sadly, the one person who was unable to watch this historic event was James S. Craig himself, the man who instigated all of this. On September 24, 1961,  the day before the battleship's departure, Craig caught a ride on an Air Force C-123, which carried six members of the Army's Golden Knights to a planned parachute drop.  Craig intended to take aerial photos of the North Carolina's new home on the Wilmington waterfront.  Things went horribly wrong.  The plane stalled on take-off, crashed, and exploded into flames.  Three crew members were instantly killed and Craig was severely burned.  Craig was rushed to the Army burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, with the USS North Carolina just days away from reaching the Cape Fear River.

On October 14, 1961, the USS North Carolina opened to the public.  More than 5000 people walked the ship's decks.  Paty, now 36 years old, stepped out of his car, to stand before the battleship who had made it home.  It was surreal for him, since Paty never thought he'd ever see her again.  Paty recognized an old face - that of Rear Adm. William S. Maxwell.  "You're one of my boys," Maxwell told Paty, as they saluted.  The officer and the radioman boarded the gangway, returning home together.  Paty descended three decks, walking along the bunks, and found his.
Paty recalls, "Oh, I tell you, my heart just pounded."

That same day, October 14, as so many soldiers hearts were pounding as they visited the USS North Carolina in her new home, Jimmy Craig's heart stopped.  The man who paved the way for a final resting place for the USS North Carolina died in San Antonio.  Flags on the battleship on October 15 were lowered to half-mast.

The Hawthornes took a self-guided tour
on board the North Carolina.
The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA was designed to carry 1800 men, but by the end of World War II, she was home to over 2300.  Some stayed a few months, some for years.  In all, more than 7000 men served aboard the NORTH CAROLINA from April 1941 to June 1947.

The crew slept in metal bunks stack five tiers high.

The ship is 729 feet in length - approximately 2 1/2 football fields - in length.

Her top speed was 28 knots or almost 32 miles per hour.  She averaged 1 mile per 145 gallons.

During the war, she steamed 307,988 miles.

The NORTH CAROLINA was a state-of-the-art battleship at the time.

NORTH CAROLINA made its own electrical power, producing 8.4 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a small town of 6500 people.

Keel Laid............................October 27, 1937
Launched............................June 13, 1940
Commissioned.....................April 9, 1941
Builder................................New York Navy Yard
Length................................728 feet, 8 5/8 inches
Beam..................................108 feet, 3 7/8 inches
Displacement.......................36,600 tons standard (without fuel and water)
                   .......................44,800 tons fully loaded
Maximum speed...................28 knots
Main armament.....................9        16-inch, 45 caliber guns

                      .....................20       5-inch, 38 caliber guns
                      .....................40-60   40mm, 56 caliber guns
                      .....................36-53   20mm, 70 caliber guns
Wartime Complement.............141 officer, 2115 enlisted, 85 marines
Battle Stars Earned.................15
Decommissioned...................June 27, 1947
Moved to Wilmington.............October 2, 1961
Dedicated.............................April 29, 1962

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Campaigns

  • Landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi August 7-9, 1942
  • Capture and Defense of Guadalcanal August 16, 1942 - February 8, 1943
  • Battle of the Eastern Solomons August 23-24, 1942
  • New Georgia Group Operations June 30 – August 31, 1943New Guinea, Rendova, Vangunu Invasion
  • Gilbert Islands Operation November 19 - December 8, 1943
Tarawa and Makin
  • Bismark Archipelago Operations December 25, 1943
Kavieng Strike
  • Marshall Island Operation January 29 – February 8, 1944
Invasion of Kwajalein and Majuro Atoll
  • Task Force Strikes
Truk February 16-17, 1944
Marianas February 21-22, 1944
Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai March 30 – April 1, 1944
Truk, Satawan and Ponape April 29 - May 1, 1944
  • Western New Guinea Operations April 21-24, 1944
  • Marianas Operation
Invasion of Saipan June 11-24, 1944
Battle of the Philippine Sea June 19-20, 1944
  • Leyte Operation November 13-14, 19-25, 1944; December 14-16, 1944
Attacks on Luzon
  • Luzon Operation
Luzon January 6-7, 1945
Formosa January 3-4, 9, 15, and 21, 1945
China coast January 12 and 16, 1945
Nansei Shoto January 22, 1945
  • Iwo Jima Operation February 15 – March 1, 1945
Invasion, assault and occupation of Iwo Jima
Raids against Honshu and Nansei Shoto in support
  • Okinawa Operation March 17 – April 27, 1945
Invasion, assault and occupation of Okinawa
Capture of the Kerama Islands
Raids against Kyushu and Inland Sea targets
  • Third Fleet Operations July 10 – August 15, 1945
Bombardment of and air strikes on
Japanese Home Islands

Divine Services
Church services were usually held in this mess hall, but they could also be in any other available compartment or on the main deck.  The congregation often included crews invited from smaller ships, such as destroyers, which did not have chaplains.  During a Christian service, a Church pennant (white with a blue cross) flew above the American flag.  It is the only flag authorized to do so.  On Sundays, Protestant services were at 10AM.  Communion was held quarterly.  In the spring of 1944, Lt. Francis Klass, a Catholic priest, was assigned to the Battleship.  Before then, mass was held when a visiting priest came onboard.  Mass was held at 8:30 AM with confessions heard in the library at 7:30 AM.

Church Furnishings

To save space on ships, in 1941 the US Navy designed a reversible brass cross for Protestant and Catholic services.  Brass candlesticks and two flower vases completed the standard altar set.  All had broad square weighted bases to avoid tipping on a rolling ship.  The folding altar and portable pulpit are also metal so they were less likely to catch fire.  Other original equipment included a missal stand, baptismal bowl, pulpit and altar covers, and hanging dossal.  They were stored in the chaplain's stateroom between services.

The Navy designed a communion set of a gold-plated cup divided for wine and wafers and a paten for bread.  The small removable container within the chalice for wafers allowed Protestant chaplains to serve communion by dipping the wafer into the wine.  This method became common in the Navy.  Individual cup communion sets were also designed. 
The silver box on the altar is a chalice kit made for Lt. Francis Klass, one of the ship's chaplains.

A gold leaf bronze triptych originally hung over the ship's altar and is still in the Battleship's collections.  The artist, Ethel Parson Paullin, painted a scene from the Last Supper in the center with biblical quotations on either side.  At the beginning of World War II, the Citizens Committee for the Army and Navy commissioned her to create 30 triptychs for service chapels and ships.

Music for services came from several sources.  A bugler sounded the church call and a quartet or choir performed.  The congregation sang hymns using the "Song and Service Book for Ship and Field, Army, and Navy."  While in port in 1941 and 1942, the chaplain arranged for a guest soloist.  A small, folding pump organ used by chaplains throughout the Navy was played during services and a few men from the ship's band played for special occasions.

Mrs. G.U. Vetlesen, mother of Ensign E.C. Monell, donated a Hammond electric organ in May 1941 for use in divine services and special occasions.  It was stored in the nearby bake shop.  Albert Baley played the organ for over two years while he was attached to the ship.  He played meal time concerts in addition to the regular church services.

The Navy Chaplain
The Battleship's chaplain held weekly divine services, oversaw the crew's spiritual welfare, and served as morale builder.  He held weekly Bible classes and told the crew about special services when the ship was in port.  He reminded the men to keep in touch with "the folks back home" and fielded letters from concerned parents. He assisted the crew with personal needs, such as corresponding with the American Red Cross regarding issues at home, and helped settle financial affairs.  He also managed the ship's library.  During general quarters, the chaplain was assigned to a battle dressing station.

It was the chaplain's duty to conduct memorial services and burials for men who died while serving on the Battleship.  The following men were killed in action:
  • George E. Conlon, August 24, 1942, Strafing during the Battle of the Easter Solomons
  • Albert Speers Geary, September 15, 1942, Torpedo attack, washed overboard
  • Ingwald Nels Nelson, September 15, 1942, Torpedo attack
  • Leonard Edward Pone, September 15, 1942, Torpedo attack
  • William Osborne Skelton, September 15, Torpedo attack
  • Oscar Callaway Stone, September 15, 1942, Torpedo
  • Eldon Emmet Means, April 6, 1945, Aircraft recovery accident
  • Edward Emil Brenn, April 6, 1945, Friendly fire
  • Carl Elmer Karam, Jr., April 6, 1945, Friendly fire
  • John Malcolm Watson, April 6, 1945, Friendly fire 
The torpedo attack victims were buried in the Army Cemetery on the island of Tongatabu.
Men also died by accident and sickness while serving on the Battleship.
In March 1944, Norman Gilliam died by drowning while on a recreation outing.
Millard Rae Nieman died February 15, 1944 from septicemia and was buried at sea.
Frank Merck died in an accident onshore.
Henry Julian Kobierski was found dead in his bunk, September 27, 1943.  Coronary artery disease.
Julian Winthrop, transferred from the Ticonderoga, died January 22, 1945 and was buried at sea.

Chaplain Everett P. Wuebbens wrote Gilliam's father:
"As ship's chaplain it was my task to give him a Christian burial with full military honors in a United States Cemetery, US Navy 3234.  Norman was laid to rest in grave no. 19 which will be marked with a white cross and a bronze plaque bearing his name.  This cemetery was established only recently but even now it gives promise of becoming a dignified and peaceful resting place for officers and enlisted men alike who have lost their lives in the service of our country."

Chaplains Redman and Klass conducted burial at sea services for the men killed in the friendly fire incident.  Redman prayed, "Heavenly Father, today we committed to the deep three of our shipmates who gave their lives so that others may live.  We are particularly mindful at this time of their loved ones at home.  Sustain them in their sorrow.  Help them to understand that those they love gave their lives for their protection and care.   Be with all the officers and men in this ship.  Five all of us heart and mind to serve thee and country willingly and faithfully.  We pray in Christ's name who died for us and all mankind.  Amen."

Friendly Fire

April 6, 1945.  The Battleship along with three large aircraft carriers, two light carriers, three battleships, four light cruiser, and 12 destroyers were fighting off the coast of Okinawa.  During the day, an estimated 182 Japanese kamikazes in 22 groups attacked the allied ships.  Just after 1 o'clock in the afternoon, an allied ship fired at a low flying kamikaze and struck the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA by accident.  a 5-inch/38 caliber projectile hit the base of the port side 5-inch battery director, located just above the signal bridge.  Forty four men were wounded and three were killed:
     Edward Emil Brenn, Chief Fire Controlman
     Carl Elmer Karam Jr., Seaman 1/c
     John Malcolm Watson, Fire Controlman 1/c

The men were buried at sea in a ceremony on April 7, 1945.
Protestant services were conducted for Karam and Watson by Chaplain Redman and a Catholic service was conducted by Chaplain Klass for Brenn.

Crew Memories

I had just started at the CIC (Combat Information Center) and gone out on the Signal Bridge.  Lieutenant Commander Kurin, the division officer, asked me to stay.  I was a surface plotter and I stayed because he ordered me to.  We had many casualties that morning.  Most everybody on the Signal Bridge got hit.  My buddy walked out right in front of me and I was a step behind him.  He got out before he was pulled back.  He was seriously wounded.  You often wonder but never mention what would have happened otherwise. 
- Everett Beaver, Radarman 2/c

Three men in my division got killed today and I knew them all well.  It kind of gives you a funny feeling.  It seems as if tomorrow I will wake up and find it all a dream.   I was on the Signal Bridge when it all happened.  A five-inch shell hit Sky II by the base.  It was fired by one of our destroyers.  I could hear the shrapnel hit against the steel on the side of me.  I hope I never see a day like today again.
-  Jerry Kass, Fire Controlman 3/c,
as noted in his diary.

On to the bake shop:
Cakes, pies, breads, and all other baked goods were prepared here in the bake shop.  Six to seven men worked here.  This was a night job.  A baker's day began in the evening when preparation began for the next day's meals.  Today there is one oven, an electric dough mixer, and a proofing oven remaining.

There are four engine rooms ("machinery spaces") on the Battleship.  They are arranged one behind the other lengthwise from bow to stern.  Strong, watertight bulkheads separate each engine space.  This design limited flooding due to damage from a torpedo or mine. 

The boilers burned a heavy fuel oil called bunker "C."  Battleships were designed for long trips across the ocean.  Nearly two million gallons of fuel oil could be stored in tanks along both sides of the ship. In an emergency, the ship could also burn its 200,000+ gallons of diesel fuel.  The ship refueled depending on conditions.  At maximum speed of 28 knots, the ship could burn all its fuel in just five days.  At an economical speed of 15 knots, the ship carried enough fuel for 37 days covering more than 13,000 miles at sea.  Often the Battleship served as a gas station refueling destroyers while at sea. 

Each engine room has two boilers which made superheated steam (850 degrees/575 psi) and saturated steam (484 degrees).  Superheated steam powered the propulsion turbines and turbo generators.  Saturated steam operated pumps and other auxiliary equipment.

Each engine room powered a single shaft turning a four-bladed propeller.  Reduction gears reduced the shaft speed from 5904 rpm at the turbine to anywhere between 6 rpm (1 knot) to a maximum 199 rpm (28 knots) at the ship's propeller.

The Battleship had equipment to generate electricity for lighting and to power everything from the aircraft crane and guns to the bakery's dough mixers and the dentist's drills.  Pairs of turbo generators are located in engine rooms #1 and #3.  Each produced 1250 kw.  There are also four ship's service diesel generators.  Each produced 850 kw.  Emergency diesel generators are in engine rooms #2 and #4.  Each produced 200 kw.  Auxiliary machinery included pumps, evaporators, blowers, refrigeration, machinery and much more.

Between 420 and 445 men were assigned to the engineering divisions. The divisions were: E (electrical), B (boiler), M (machinery), and A (auxiliaries).  Enlisted men rates were: Machinist's Mate (MM), Electrician's Mate (EM), Water Tender (WT), Boilerman (B), Fireman (F), and Motor Machinist's Mate (MoMM).  One officer and 32 enlisted men were assigned to Engine Room #4.

Engineering Plant

Eight Babcock & Wilcox three-drum, express type fitted with two furnaces and double uptakes 850 degrees/575psi

Four sets of General Electric double-reduction geared, cross composed turbines

High pressure turbine   mass of 5904 rpm
Low pressure turbine    mass of 4937 rpm (forward)
                                          or 3299 rpm (reverse)

Shaft horsepower
Ahead        115,00 hp at 199 rpm
                    (121,000 hp emergency)
Astearn      32,000 hp at 133 rpm

4 ship's service turbo-generators       1250 kw each
4 ship's service diesel generators         850 kw each
2 emergency diesel generators              250 kw each

2 four-bladed                        15 feet, 4 inches mounted inboard
2 four-bladed                         16 feet, 7 1/2 inches mounted outboard

Two balanced streamline type with train limits of 36 1/2 degrees to either port or starboard

Tank Capacities
Fuel Oil                                             1,985,314 gallons
Diesel Oil                                             212,619 gallons
Gasoline                                                   8478 gallons
Reserve Feed Water for boilers               110,478 gallons
Potable (fresh) water                            163,525 gallons

 The emergency diesel 250 kw generator provided power for the aft gyro compass, lighting, and other essential equipment.  It could be started manually or automatically.  It took about 45 seconds to activate the emergency lighting after a power failure.  The switchboard could also distribute power from the Battleship's main generators in an emergency.

Not every engine room on the Battleship is alike.  The forward emergency generator and switchboard are located in engine room #2.  Two turbo generators, each producing 1250 kw of electrical power, and distribution switchboards are located in engine rooms #1 and #3.  There are also four ship's service diesel generators, two forward and two aft, producing 850 kw each.

Four sets of evaporators on the ship converted salt water to distilled water for the boilers and usable water for the crew.  Their capacity was 80,000 gallons per day.  In an emergency, stored fresh water could be used in the boilers.

Crew Memories
It was terribly, terribly hot down there when you were operating on equipment.  I had guys dropping out all around me, sweating so much that water was actually running out of their shoes.  It got above 135 degrees a time or two.  It was hot.  The longest we went was 72 hours during general quarters.  That is the only time you had to stay down there without your own watch.  There were four hour watches.  You were on four and off eight.

We had what they called a smoke watch.  Smoke was a dead give away for submarines.  They could plot it a minute later and they got you nailed.  They didn't want any smoke coming out of those stacks so they had a man sitting way up in the tower who could look down in those stacks and tell you which boiler was smoking so you could clear it up immediately.  Fuel oil boilers get dirty.  When they get dirty, they won't have a complete combustion which will cause smoke.
-Theron Nichols, Water Tender

The boilers have a steam drum above you and mud drum below.  These mud drums have got covers on them;  sheet metal covers that you can take off to get into them.  Between the sheet metal covers and actually our manhole into your mud drum you have - a spot about 10 or 12 inches.  We used to get a piece of beef from the cook and some new potatoes and some onions and we'd take some sheet metal and make this thing like a baking pan and sit in there for a hour and a half.  It was just like roasting and it used to be delicious.
- Charlie Rosell, Water Tender

Pipes and lines were marked by colors and number of of rings so repairmen and others could readily identify a pipe's function:  steam, water, fire main, and so forth.  Emergency situations made the coding vital to damage control parties.  If they were fighting a fire or containing some other damage they might not be familiar with pipes in that area.  The coding immediately provided the answers.  The markings were standard throughout the US Navy in 1943.

Reduction Gear
The reduction gear is like the ship's transmission.  At top speed the high pressure (HP) turbine operated at 5904 rpm and the low pressure (LP) turbine operated at 4937 rpm.  Steam turbines were generally more efficient at higher speeds, but the ship's propeller operated at lower speeds.
The reduction gear reduced the shaft speed from 5904 rpm at the turbine to between 6 rpm (1 knot) and 199 rpm (28 knots) at the ship's propeller.  Also, the reduction gear coupled both the HP and LP turbines together to drive a single shaft.

Each engine room powered a single shaft turning a four-bladed propeller.  The propeller shaft bearings are made from Lignumvitae, a hardwood resistant to decay by fungus, termites, and marine borers.  Because this engine room is located at the stern, all the propeller shafts run through here.

Look below the grating to see the propeller shaft from Engine Room #2.

On to the galley:
The galley is the Ship's kitchen.  This is where food was prepared and cooked for the crew.  

Over eight million meals have been prepared in the galley - more than 2000 men were fed three times a day.  Breakfast was served at 0630, lunch at 1130, and dinner at 1630.  Early chow for watch reliefs was served a half an hour earlier.

Twenty five cooks worked in the galley.  There were also 100 messmen who helped serve food, assisted the cooks, and performed general mess duties such as serving tea and coffee, putting away condiment containers, and cleaning the mess area.  All non-rated enlisted crewmembers had to serve a three-month mess duty.

Once the food was ready, it was taken to the steam serving tables to be served to the crew.

Being battleship sailors did have its advantages.  You were going to get a decent hot meal served on a tray and sit at a table.  For the Army or Marines, dinner would often be cold rations eaten out of a helmet.  The only complaint crewmembers had was the same meal was served every week of every month for the entire year.  Holidays or special occasion were the exception.

Coffee was always available.

The Battleship could carry 120 days of food supplies including:
7800 eggs
16,800 pounds of butter
94,200 pounds of sugar
214,00 pounds meat
466,000 pounds vegetables
135,000 pounds fruit

Crew Memories

Beef on toast.  I went in the Navy weighing 135-140 pounds.  I came out weighing 225.
- Jackson Belford, Signalman 3/c

If you lost track of the days, you could always tell by what food was served.  Beans were Saturday, chicken or ham on Sunday.
- Henry Okuszki, Boiler Maker 2/c

Food aboard ship was generally good.  We called the dehydrated potatoes wallpaper paste and probably wallpaper paste tasted about the same.  While we were taking on supplies, we took aboard a couple of hundred boxes of fresh potatoes that they stored in the forward hole.  We continued to be fed the dehydrated spuds until we went back to sea.  When they decided to break out the fresh potatoes, they went down in the forward hole and were met with a stinking mess.  I guess they failed to realize what the high humidity along with the hot temperature and poor circulation would do to fresh produce; most of them were rotten.  So back to the dehydrated variety.  The rotten ones were dumped over the side.  The next time we took on provisions, the potatoes were placed on the Main Deck on the Fantail, covered and lashed down.  We started to enjoy fresh potatoes immediately.  When we went back to sea, we ran into a storm that cleaned the Fantail of all our potatoes.  So back to the dehydrated variety.
- William Fleishman, Watertender 2/c

In 1942, everything was Spam, Spam, Spam - for breakfast, dinner, and supper with eggs.  We had powdered eggs and dehydrated spuds.  They got a little bit better after a while.
- Jerry Gonzales, Machinist's Mate 2/c

I don't ever remember them cutting down on the proportions.  Of course, you didn't go for seconds, you went through with whatever you had on your tray.  Maybe a few times, maybe in those eighty-seven days, they might have cut down a little bit on our proportions ...  it got pretty scant.  We were eating the same thing quite a bit.  We were fixing up the hamburger a lot of ways, and that old fish that had been down in the freezer.  That was the one thing that nobody could hardly eat.  They might have well kept it, that fish.  It was almost impossible to eat.
- Wilburn Thomas, Boatswain's Mate 1/c

One time, after being at sea for an extended period, we started getting some bad chow.  There was a sameness to it.  Cooks could only do so much to dress up the food during extended missions.  Several members of the crew began calling the commissary steward telling him that unless the food improved, he may go over the lifeline some night.  At sea, with little entertainment and no women, it's only natural for some guys to get grumpy.  The Captain heard about the complaints, telling the crew over the public address system to quit making the threatening calls over the Ship's phone to the cooks.  He explained to the crew that the extended time at sea was exhausting stocks and the decline in the quality of the food wasn't the fault of the cooks.  Understanding, the crew stopped their threats and after getting resupplied, we again got the best chow in the Navy.
- Joseph Underwood, Aviation Machinist's Mate 1/c

I always thought the chow was fantastic.  I enjoyed every bit of it.  Some of my favorites were beans for breakfast, beef on toast, eggs (out at sea they were usually powdered but sometimes we got fresh ones).  Our bakery was exceptional.  We had pies, cake, homemade bread and rolls.  Seconds were sometimes available.
- Bob Palomaris, Gunner's Mate 1/c

"Bogie Hunts"

Bugs were a constant problem due to hot and humid weather in the South Pacific.  They often ended up being cooked into the food.

"Bogie Hunts" was the term used for picking bugs from bread.  The proper way to do this was to hold the slice of bread to the light - It would look like raisin bread but a lot smaller raisins.  After a week or two of this you forgot about the raisins and ate it anyway.
- Jerry Lape, Watertender 1/c

One thing we always did when we had biscuits or bread - before we ate it we held it up to the light to make sure there weren't any black spots in them.  We did have a lot of cockroaches!  Quite often we would find them in the bread, sometimes so many that we thought they were raisins!
- Bob Palomaris, Gunner's Mate

Mess Jobs 

I served twice on the Ship as a mess cook.  My duties were to help set the tables and benches for each meal.  The mess cooks were assigned either to work behind the steam tables (serving line)
or to service the tables.  This involved keeping the pitcher on each table filled with coffee for breakfast, tea for dinner, and tea or lemonade for supper.
- Leo Bostwick, Machinist Mate 2/c

The first one served is the Officer of the Deck.  He had to come down and look at the chow and eat it.  If it is suitable to him, then the chow line starts.  If he had problems about the looks of it or the taste of it, then the chow line would be secured until all this would be taken care of.  There was seldom any time the chow line wasn't palatable.  We ate very well on here.

This Ship fed very well compared to the number of crew we had and how often we came in for supplies.  We were feeding 2000 or more three meals a day.   The chow line would take about two hours all together to feed, and that's including the early watch, the regular crew, and the watch coming off duty.
- Herbert L Sisco, Ship's Cook 2/c

Food and Battlestations 

A skeleton crew was left to work in the galley during general quarters.

Sometimes we went for hours without food.  When we could get a break, a man would be sent to the galley for battle rations.  Ham sandwiches and coffee were the rations and boy, they were good.
-Charles Foster, Patternmaker 1/c

Battle rations were buckets of food- bread, lunchmeat, bread; bread, lunchmeat, bread; bread, lunchmeat, bread.  No mayonnaise, no mustard, no tomato.  They would fill up buckets of this and take a bucket of sandwiches and a bucket of coffee to every battlestation.  The sandwiches were so dry you could hardly swallow.
- Donald Wickham, Musician 2/c

One Sunday we were at lunch.  We had chicken and ice cream.  They sounded General Quarters and the guys took the ice cream and put it between two slices of bread and called it an ice cream sandwich.  This happened a number of times.
- Ortho Farrar, Machinist's Mate 1/c

The scullery was dishwashing central - all dirty mess trays, cookware, and silverware were brought here to be washed, rinsed, and sterilized.  The collected trays and silverware were placed in baskets and set through the dishwasher. Once clean, the mess items were stored in cabinets on the mess decks.

The scullery consists of two compartments and had four men assigned to each one.  The messmen were junior crewmembers assigned to mess duty for three months.

Crew Memories
They had a big machine you put the potatoes in there with water.  You turned the machine on.  It had abrasive stuff on the inside, like heavy sandpaper.  It would clean the outside tissue of the potato off, then you dumped that out and all you had left to do was to take the eyes out of the potato.  The thing you had to watch and make sure the chief wasn't around because a lot of guys would let it run too much and instead of potatoes, you had marbles.
- William Schack, Machinist's Mate 2/c
Vegetable Preparing Room

The vegetable preparing room and the vegetable locker were two spaces used for the preparation of vegetables for meals.  Six to ten junior crewmembers (usually seamen) worked in these spaces for three months at a time and received an extra $5.00 a month in pay for this duty.  Work was done in the afternoons and evenings for the next day's meals.

The vegetables were brought up from the reefers (refrigerators) and taken to the vegetable locker.  Potatoes and carrots were brought into this room to be peeled by the two large white machines, known as "potato peelers."  Once the vegetables were processed, they were taken back down to the reefers or stored on ice in the galley overnight.

The reefer compartments are made up of several refrigerated units- three for meats, one for butter and eggs, two for fruits and vegetables, and a thawing room.  There is also a large room for the refrigeration machinery and the icemaker.

The Ship's cooks made a trip to the reefers once a day to bring up the next day's necessary items.  Each cold room had a signal bell just in case you got locked inside.

Drinking fountains are called scuttlebutts.
"Scuttlebutt" is also the Navy slang for gossip or rumors.  
Sailors exchanged gossip when they gathered
at the scuttlebutt for a drink.

Once you finished eating, you took your tray to one of the six soiled gear tables in the Mess Decks.  You dumped your scraps into the hole.  A trashcan sat underneath.
Cutlery, cups, and bowls were placed in baskets.  Mess trays were stacked.  From the soiled gear table, a tray runner took the dirty dishes to the Scullery to be washed.  Scraps were taken to the Garbage Grinder.

Garbage Grinder
All of the Ship's garbage was brought here to be ground up for disposal.  The grinder would grind the garbage, mix it with water, and then release it into the ocean over the Ship's propellers.  This avoided leaving a floating trail that the enemy could follow.

I had the job called the "tray runner."  You'd take the metal trays we'd  from and take them from where the guys emptied them to the Scullery and then take clean ones and put them back in the rack for the people who would come through the chow line to pick up.  I remember carrying them.  It was awfully hard work and hot.  I remember sweating under my clothes where I'd put these trays up against my stomach.  I would break out in prickly hives.
- Ollie Claude Goad, Seaman 1/c

Battleship North Carolina has eight mess decks.  Mess Deck tables and benches were only set up when a meal was being served.  Otherwise, they were secured on the storage bars overhead.  The Mess Deck was used for other things.  It was a spot for writing letters or playing games.  It even served as the bank for payday.  Movies were shown in Mess Deck 2.  Church services were held in Mess Deck 1.  The Mess Deck might also be used as sleeping quarters.  Crew that didn't have a bunk slept in hammocks.  Hammocks were hung from large hooks mounted overhead.

Crew Memories
The crew ate in the mess halls located in the aft part of the Ship.  Six of them were for seaman rates and two for firemen.  I think the separation was a holdover from the old sailing navy when the sailors greatly resented the "black gang" probably for their use of coal that dirtied the "holy" decks.  Actually, I seem to remember that greasy soot came down on the freshly holystoned decks one day when the snipes were blowing the stacks to the outrage of the deck force.  Maybe that old tradition was a good one.
- Bill Faulkner, Seaman 1/c

This kid looks 12 years old.

Berthing Quarters

Men that worked in the surrounding shops and laundry
 slept in this compartment. 
 There were a total of 16 racks (beds).
Some of the men actually slept in their shops.

The Barber Shop
The Ship had six barbers to keep all 2300 men of the North Carolina ready for inspection.  Open Monday through Saturday from 0800 to 1130 and 1300 to 1600, the Barber Shop was closed only on Sundays and holidays.  The cost varied from free to 25 cents, depending upon the rate set by the Commanding Officer, with proceeds going to the ship's welfare and recreation fund.  Tipping was not allowed and services were limited to regulation haircuts only.  Officers and chief petty officers had front of the line privileges.  An Officer's Barber Shop was added later.

A regulation haircut required hair to be neatly trimmed around the sides and back and not more than 2 1/2 inches on the top.  Beards and mustaches were to be neatly trimmed at all times.  Hair was not allowed on the neck or to touch the ears.

Barber tags or chits (passes) were issued to each division.  The division police petty officers distributed the tags to men needing or desiring haircuts.  You could not get a haircut without one.  If there was a charge for a haircut, a ticket was purchased at the Ship's Store.

The Barber Shop was not the only place a sailor could go to get a haircut.  There were "bootleg" barbers around the ship.

Post Office:  Lifeline to Loved Ones

 The Post Office was one of the most popular places aboard Ship.  Mail served as the lifeline to family, friends, and loved ones for the crewmembers aboard.  The Post Office aboard any United States Ship was an extension of the United States Federal Postal Service, and had to adhere to all rules and regulations regarding mail handling and delivery.  Stamps and money orders were also sold here.

The Post Office was open from 1000 to 1130 and 1400 to 1600 on weekdays and 1000 to 1130 on Saturdays.  Collection of mail was daily at 1400.  Three mail clerks were in the Post Office.

When at sea, the North Carolina's mail was delivered by destroyers.  Destroyers went into port, picked up mail and delivered it when they came alongside to refuel.  Once received, the bags of of mail were sorted for distribution.  The Ship's bugler would sound MAIL CALL.  It would sound several times until all of the mail was sorted.  Each division mail petty officer, appointed by his division officer, was responsible for going to the Post Office to get his division's mail.  After picking up the mail, he then carried it back to his division's living space and distributed it to the men.  The mail petty officer was also responsible for returning mail of those who had transferred, were on leave, or absent from the ship.  Officers' mail was personally delivered to their staterooms by one of the mail clerks.

For a crew of over 2300, the volume of mail could be overwhelming, especially when it did not come for months at a time.  To help reduce the bulk, a new mail procedure called "V-mail"  (i.e. victory mail) was launched on June 15, 1942.  Using a special form, the letter was photographed and reduced to microfilm.  This allowed an entire ship's mail to be handled in just one small bag.  Before delivery, the microfilmed letter was reprinted at half-size, folded, and placed in an envelope for delivery.  Even if not microfilmed, V-mail was still only 60% of the weight of ordinary first class mail.  V-mail was free for those in the armed services overseas.  The cost to civilians was 3 cents a letter.


Information regarding troop movements, ship locations, and planned bombardments could be devastating to the fleet if it fell into enemy hands.  Therefore, all mail had to be censored before it left the ship.  Censorship did not always work.  Sailors frequently worked out signals to let their loved ones know that they were okay.

When word was received that outgoing mail would be sent off for transport back to the states, the word would come over the PA system, "All officers lay to the wardroom to censor mail."  We would go to our tables and the mail clerks would dump sacks of mail in front of us to censor.  The junior officers censored the enlisted sailors' mail and the senior officers would censor the junior officers' mail.  We were required to read every word of every letter and cut out with a pen knife any unauthorized information about where we were, where we were going, what action we were in, what the Ship was doing or scheduled to do.  People learned to never seal the envelops before censorship and to write on only one side of the paper so as not to lose two thoughts for the price of the one being cut up.  Knowing that our senior offices would read out mail inhibited us from pouring out our passion to loved ones by mail.  That did not seem to bother many of the sailors' thoughts and I learned a lot about life since I had been sheltered growing up in a small rural upstate New York village.  We cheered when censorship was finally terminated in September 1945.  A letter to my wife postmarked "September 5, 1945, Tokyo Bay,"  reported that Bob Phillips, our communications officer, had just come to announce that censorship was officially cancelled.  I then proceeded to write what had been on my heart and mind all those months away but couldn't let the censors know it.  That letter probably should be "X" rated.
- Lt. (jg) Tracy Wilder, F Division Officer

Mail call was probably the favorite of any sailor aboard any ship in the United States Navy during WWII.  When you heard the call you also heard a roar go up on the Ship and everyone would run to their division and the mail call officer would run down and get the mail.  Sometimes this would go on for hours, as they would start calling out everybody's names.  I don't think there was anything that beat this!
- Bob Palomaris, Gunner's Mate 1/c

When the NORTH CAROLINA was still in the Brooklyn Navy Yard I had duty one night and having  nothing special to do I roamed around the Ship.  A notice on the bulletin board caught my eye.  It was an offer from a group of women called "The Women of the Forests of America."  It was an offer for men who had lost their parents (I had lost mine.)  They would enjoy sending little gifts to us sailors.  I did not have anything else to do then, so I sent my name into their office.  I forgot about it as time passed, but one day when we were deep in the South Pacific, mail call was sounded over the loud speakers.  Then, I received a personal call from the mail clerk to come back and pick up my mail.   This was an unusual invitation since our division mail clerk would normally pick it up and deliver it to us.  When I arrived at the Ship's Post Office, the mail clerk yelled, "Ashe, here is your mail, THREE bags full!"  I had more mail than for everyone else aboard.  It was all from the "Women of the Forest of America."  They had sent my letter to all of the chapters in the United States!  Every bundle of letters, every package, big or small, was from them to me.  What a great day!  I obviously couldn't handle them all so I gave bundles of mail to the single sailors and packages to the married ones.  A lot of laughs erupted in opening the packages when wool scarves and wool socks were found.  It was 100 in the shade in the South Pacific.  There were other good things like stationary, pens, pencils, candies, cookies, shaving supplies, soaps, etc.  A lot of letters came from daughters of the women's club.  This started a lot of correspondence and months of great letter writing existed after that.  Some even met each other later.
- Walter Ashe, Storekeeper 1/c

Ice cream was made and stored here.  Sailors purchased their favorite ice cream or sundae at the Gedunk (soda fountain).  NORTH CAROLINA carried a 30-day supply of fresh food.  A mechanical cow made milk when the fresh milk supply ran out.

Crew Memories
I knew we had a "cow" - when I went home on leave in 1944, I was telling everybody that we had a cow on the Ship with us.  I think it cost about $2500.  We'd take water and butter, and we'd make our own milk.  We'd get it pretty cold and you could drink it...  it wasn't bad at all.  You could cook all day to make enough milk to make one meal.  It could be done if you stayed with it.
- Wilburn Thomas, Boatswain's Mate 1/c

Across from the Gedunk stand was the "Daisy Mae."  The "Daisy Mae" was a milk machine that converted powdered milk and butter into "fresh milk."  The product was first class and made a lot of "Tin Cans" (destroyers) and other lesser craft sailors happy when we refueled them and sent over ice cream and fresh milk.  It took up a lot of time - at least one cook and one shipfitter to keep it running.
- Don Grasby, Storekeeper 3/c

This is one of several 16-inch ammunition loading trunks.  A trunk is a series of openings for transporting supplies.  Below, all the trunk's hatches opened.  The bottom is four levels down, or 35 feet.  Ammunition was lowered down through the trunk.  At the bottom, other crew members transferred projectiles and powder cans to nearby storage areas.  

I do no understand people's penchant for throwing money away.
At any rate, the coins collected go to the Restoration Fund.

The Head
This is one of six enlisted heads or bathrooms on the Ship.
  • It was extremely crowded - 200 men used each head.
  • There was no privacy.
  • Showers and sinks had fresh water.
  • Urinals and toilets had salt water.
The North Carolina made her own fresh water.  Four evaporators made fresh water from salt water.  Fresh water was needed for the engine room boils, for cooking, and for the crew.  The evaporators distilled up 74,000 gallons of water per day.  The evaporators ran almost constantly.

The average person today uses 80 to 100 gallons of water each day for consumption and hygiene.  Onboard ship, each sailor was allowed 25 gallons.

Average water usage:
Flushing a toilet              4-6 gallons
Shower                         5-15 gallons per minute
Running faucet               2-5 gallons per minute

Fresh water usage was monitored. "Navy showers" were required.  WET DOWN.  TURN WATER OFF.  SOAP UP.  RINSE OFF.  The "Water Watch" made sure that no crew member wasted water in the shower.

The heads were always open.  The only time they were closed was for cleaning and battlestations.  The Captain-of-the-Head was responsible for cleaning and upkeep.

The term "head" comes from the days of sailing ships when the bathroom was all the way forward on either side of the bowsprit.  The bowsprit was the part of the hull where the figurehead was fastened.  The phrase "going to the head" meant more than simply going to the bathroom.  It literally meant that you were going to the Ship's figurehead (head).

  You lost that when you joined the Navy.

The operating room was tiny.

This is an officer's stateroom.  The Ship's Supply Officer occupied this stateroom.  He headed the department in charge of provisions, supplies, clothing, food, payroll, and services like the tailer, cobbler, stores, and soda fountain.

His particular responsibilities probably explain why he was able to get a real bed and not a bunk like the other officers' staterooms.  The only other officers with real beds were the Captain, Executive Officer, and visiting admirals.

The Big Guns
The 16 inch guns comprise North Carolina's "Main Battery," her most destructive weapon.  These big guns provided impressive fire power.  They could accurately fire at a target 21-23 miles away, depending on the type of projectile used.

The 16-inch guns fulfilled two important purposes:
  • destruction of enemy ships
  • shore bombardment
The 16-inch guns are housed in three turrets.  Turrets 1 and 2 are located on the bow while Turret 3 is on the stern.

A turret is a massive circular structure that is supported and rotated on a ring of heavy rollers.  Each rotating turret structure consists of three 16-inch guns and all the equipment required to aim, load, and fire the three guns.  Unique to a 16-inch turret is that each gun barrel may be elevated independently of the other two in comparison to North Carolina's five-inch guns in which both barrels must be raised and lowered together.

The turret has six levels.  The top one can be seen from the Main Deck while the remaining five levels extend down through the Ship.  The lowest level is located just above the Ship's bottom.

During WW II, approximately three officers and 177 enlisted men worked in each turret and could fire one round from each gun every 30 seconds.

The top level of the turret is called the gun house.  You may enter the gun house through the hatch, the only entrance to the turret from the Main Deck.  The hatch opens into the turret officer's booth which is in the back of the gun house.

The booth contains systems which could aim and fire the guns, communications circuits, and power equipment for the rammer.  Even though the guns could be aimed and fired from the turret, the usual arrangement was for "fire control" to be handled from the Main Batter Plotting Room.  Located three levels below the Main Deck, the men in "Plot" controlled the aim and fire of all three turrets using analog computers, radar, and a large control switchboard.

The gun house also has three compartments called "gun rooms," one for each gun.  The five men in each gun room received a projectile and six power bags, rammed them into the gun, and fired the round.

16 Inch 45 Caliber Gun Statistics

Weight of armor piercing projectile                   2700 pounds
(shells used to penetrate another ship's
armor or reinforced fortifications on shore)

Weight of high capacity projectile                       1900 pounds
(shells used primarily for bombardment
of islands and other land targets)

Weight of powder charge (six bags)                        540 pounds

Effective range at 45 degrees
     armor piercing projectiles                                     21 miles
     high capacity projectiles                                         23 miles

Initial velocity
(speed of projectile as it leaves the gun)
     armor piercing projectiles                                 1568 MPH
     high capacity projectiles                                      1797 MPH

Rate of fire                                                                       30 seconds per round

Gun bore diameter                                                          16 inches

Gun barrel length                                                          61 feet, 4 inches

Maximum number of projectiles
carried aboard ship                                                    1188

Rounds of fire during action in WW II                   2396

This is a Swiss Oerlikon 20mm antiaircraft gun.  It was used to defend the Ship against close range air attacks.  It replaced the older, less effective .50 caliber machine guns.  The Battleship was designed in the 1930s to fight ships and did not have many antiaircraft guns.  Soon after the war began in Europe, the US Navy realized that our ships needed more antiaircraft guns.  In December 1941, forty 20mm guns were installed on North Carolina and more were added over the war years.  There were single and twin 20mm mounts.

A crew of four men operated each air-cooled gun.  The gunner, strapped against shoulder rests, trained, elevated, and manually fired the gun.  He used a Mark 14 (Draper) gun sight to track the target and fire the gun.  The spotter observed gunfire and changed range settings on the gun sight.  The trunnion operator raised and lowered the pedestal (trunnion).  The loader handled the heavy, drum-shaped 60-round magazines.

The loader removed the ammunition from the ready service lockers (steel boxes) located behind the guns.  There were three clipping rooms full of 20mm magazines (ammunition) for the guns.  Three clipping room captains and eight ammunition handlers supplied the gun crews with the 20mm magazines.

Effective range      2000 yards
Rate of fire               450 rounds per minute
Magazine weight       63 pounds loaded
Gun crew                      4 men

Action Reports

Plane came in over #1 turret, port to starboard.  Opened fire on plane as it went away from ship.  Went about 2000 yards, turned around, and came in for the ship.  Opened fire at 1000 yards.  Plane was hit and crashed into water.
- Arthur Hirt, Seaman 1/c

One black plane with a long fuselage and wheels came over the ship.  My trunnion operator called my attention to it.  I trained my gun at it, gave it plenty of lead, and opened fire.  The plane went for about 200 yards and burst into flames and crashed.
- Roy Jackson, Gunner's Mate 3/c

The Mark 14 sight should be removed from the gun at sunset when in waters where night air attacks are probable, as it blocks the gunner's vision and interferes with the efficiency of tracer control.  There are no more enthusiastic supporters of the Mark 14 sight during daylight actions than the personnel of this ship.  The sight is the answer to a gunner's most fervent prayer.
- Lt. Commander John Kirkpatrick, Air Defense Officer

 Middle Hawthorne and his friend went with us.
They were like 5 year-old little boys.
They aimed every gun on board,
and played with every switch, valve, hatch cover,
 and anything else that could be turned,
moved, or otherwise manipulated.

Torpedo Strikes NORTH CAROLINA

Visitors often want to know if NORTH CAROLINA was ever damaged by the enemy.  The answer is YES.
NORTH CAROLINA arrived in the Pacific ready to do battle on July 11, 1942.  

NORTH CAROLINA fought her first battle on August 24, 1942.  It was the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.  She shot down seven planes and helped shoot down at least seven more.  She frustrated the attacks of many other planes.

She was torpedoed only two months later on September 15, 1942.  NORTH CAROLINA was in the aircraft carrier HORNET Task Group.  The two carrier task groups HORNET and WASP were escorting troop transports.  The transports were carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to reinforce Guadalcanal.

Carriers were in the center of each group.  Ships formed protective circles around the carriers.  Larger battleships and cruisers were the inner circle.  Smaller destroyers were the outer circle.  NORTH CAROLINA was one of the ships protecting the HORNET.  The two task groups were about seven to ten miles apart.

Japanese submarine I-19 fired six long-range torpedoes at the carrier WASP in rapid sequence.  Three torpedoes struck their target causing tremendous damage.  The task group commander ordered WASP to be sunk that night.

The remaining three torpedoes raced on across several miles into the HORNET Task Group.  One torpedo hit destroyer O'BRIEN.  She broke up on October 19 while returning to San Francisco for repairs.  Another torpedo ran until out of fuel.

The third exploded into NORTH CAROLINA'S port side.  It hit just forward of the 12 inch thick armor belt designed to protect her from torpedoes.  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 by 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 killed and 23 were wounded.

Crew Memories 

On a quiet day, I was on a gun deck looking out at the WASP which was quite a ways from us when I saw an explosion.  Instinct told me to head to my battle station even before the alarm sounded.  In a matter of seconds, there was a major explosion on the port side.  The explosion was so big, I didn't realize it was the destroyer O'BRIEN which had been hit by a torpedo.  I just knew I had to get to my battle station.

The procedure when General Quarters sounded was to go forward and up on the starboard side, down and aft on the port side.  I was on the port side and cheated a little.  No one was around and I'd save time.  Alll of a sudden we took our torpedo hit.  I didn't know if we had been bombed or what.  There was smoke and cordite all around.  I was tempted to go aft because the hit was ahead of me.  I shrugged off the thought, but felt my way gingerly forward because the smoke still obscured my path.  I subsequently went up the many ladders to my battle station.  I could see our oil slick from there.  Worse, I could see the WASP ablaze with towering clouds of black smoke.  Through my binoculars, I could see their crew pushing planes overboard so they wouldn't explode and make matters worse.  She was subsequently sunk during the night.

I knew that the WASP was torpedoed so I went to my battle station right away and I was sitting up on top of Sky 2 before we got hit.  One of the fire controlmen, Martineau, who is dead now, he was the hairiest guy we ever saw.  He was in the shower ar the time.  He was all soaped up and when we got hit, he took from the shower and was running up on the port side of the Ship and I am looking at him go by on the Main Deck and all I can see is hair and soap suds.  No clothes on.  He went into Turret I.  That was his battle station.  There was a fire in the magazines so they flooded the magazine and they abandoned Turret I.  Here comes Martineau, still with no clothes on, but soapsuds, running back down again.  I was telling him about it afterwards.  He said, "Well, it wasn't funny."  I said, "You weren't sitting where I was."
-  Harold Smith, Fire Controlman 1/c

I was down taking a shower, didn't have a stitch of clothes on, had just gotten out of the shower, and had the towel going on my back drying my back.  There was a big explosion.  I couldn't hear anything, and the next thing I knew I was in the water and oil and there were two other guys pretty close to me, but I somehow got out.

But I'll never forget it, the sight that I saw.  I saw the prettiest roses you ever laid your eyes on.  I saw my name, at the time I was from Lynchburg, Virginia.  And I saw my name in the Lynchburg paper, Walter T. Babcock, and I'm going to tell you like it was, "Walter T. Babcock, killed in action."  And I don't remember getting from down the Third Deck up to topside.  The only thing I know, and I'm telling the truth, I saw my mother and father.  One caught one hand and one caught the other and I actually talked to them. 
Walter Babcock, Cook 2/c

Diary Excerpts

Tuesday, September 15, 1942
...BAM!  My teeth are rattling.  The Ship is vibrating and it sounds as though our Main Battery has cut loose.  I'm a running like mad because I know it's not us, but I DO know we've been hit with a torpedo.  The WASP exploded just before us and now once again she is a sheet of flame.  Boy, I was almost knocked out of a bunk I was lying in reading.  Boy, they're passing word now for all hands to man battle stations.

It sounds serious.  Looks like we're in for it .  As I ran through a passageway to my battle station, I saw smoke coming in through the ventilators.  I'm on the third deck and I was just at the head where the torpedo hit.  Another 15 or 20 minutes and I'd have been a goner.  I passed three shipfitters on my way out and some men showering, etc.  They are all done for.  The blast closed the door and cut the air hose which was being used for air testing compartments.  One man they say made it out with a leg broke in three places and then secured the watertight door.

The WASP exploded again at 1515.  The WASP is now abandoning ship at 1525.  Oh God ...  We're ruined if she sinks.  We only have the HORNET with us ...  1545 -  Supposedly contacted enemy planes at 25 miles...  Bum dope I guess.  If so, we're sunk.

They're calling my name now to come into the Repair Locker!  I've got to take the air helmet we got up to the torpedoed portion of the Ship.  Oh boy!  I connected it up and someone else has gone down to the magazines in which 16-inch powder is stored.  Most of the magazines are flooded with water and fuel oil!  Turret is out of commission, our radar is out of commission and we won't be able to pick up no ship or planes.  Our #1 Director is also out of commission.  Why they don't get rid of those antique planes and catapults and highly explosive gasoline, I'll never know.

1700 - HORNET'S  planes took off to intercept planes, I guess.  We've lost 25,000 gallons of fuel oil so far.

We just got word that WASP is underway at 18 knots and fires are out.  1802 - WASP Task Force shot down a lone back plane with a red insignia.  We've just spotted another sub.  We're leaving an oil wake behind us.

However, we're doing 23 knots.  Admiral gave us word to head into port as our oil slick is jeapordizing the remaining Task Force.  Tongatabu they say is our first destination, then Honolulu, then Bremerton, Washington.

Word now at 2020 -  WASP sunk making 18 knots.  You just can't find out now or believe anything even though we're fighting this was.  We were secured from G.Q. about 1900.
- Mike Marko,  Machinist's Mate 2/c

Tuesday, September 15, 1942

We have been torpedoed.  Will write later.  I hope.

Well it's all over but the shouting and no one seems in the mood to do any shouting.  There are five known deaths.  Men were trapped in compartments that were flooded - others missing - this is the story.  We were hit at about frame 37 between #1 and #2 turrets.  It all happened rather suddenly.  The USS WASP was first hit and she was hit hard.  We don't know if she is still afloat or not.  She was hit with two torpedoes that set her gasoline storage afire.  Those poor fellows didn't stand a chance.

Next it was our turn.  At out 1445 we took one.  God what a shock!  Fellows were tossed in the air receiving cuts and bruises and anything else one could think of.  I was knocked down but luck was with me and I only received  a small cut on my arm.  Smoke and the smell of explosives and fuel oil filled the ship in nothing flat.  We tilted about 30 degrees but we soon came back on an even keel.  I guess we can mark it down as experience.

After the hit everything was carried out swell.  You people back there don't know what it's all about.  Well I'll tell you it's a shame.  We are out here asking for it.  I wrote before that I believed we would be hit.  Yes we've done some good but look at what has happened to us.  The USS ENTERPRISE, the USS SARATOGA, the USS WASP sunk at 2000.  I pray it's not true.  Well we are headed for port - Tongatabu - and for the first time I don't want to go back. If we do go back it will be the first liberty since July 3rd.  The smell of fuel oil is sickening.  I never did like the smell anyway.  Yes I thought of all of you back home...  Fay I love you more than words could ever tell.
- Edward Cope, Electrician's Mate 1/c

Union Jack
The blue flag with white stars flying from the bow is our country's union jack.  A jack is a small national flag flown by ships.  This flag shows the American flag's upper left corner:  the 50 white stars for the states forming one nation or union. The union jack flies at the bow flagstaff when a ship is in port or anchored.  The US flag flies from the stern


Anchors Aweigh!

The Battleship has two Baldt Patent anchors, each weighing 25,883 pounds.  The anchor chain runs through the hawespipe  to storage in the deep chain locker.  The bitter ends (last link) of the chains were shackled in the locker.  The chains were 170 fathoms long each or 1020 feet.  Normally, an anchor hangs on each side of the bow.  The starboard anchor is here due to bad weather in 1960.

In  1960, the Battleship was towed from Bayonne, New Jersey.  Bad weather delayed the Battleship's arrival at the mouth of the cape Fear River near Southport.  The Ship had to drop anchor and remain overnight.  Tugs arrived the next morning to tow the Ship to Wilmington.  There was no electrical power to hoist the anchor back aboard.  Eugene and DeWitt volunteered to cut the anchor chain.  The Coast Guard later recovered the anchor and placed it on the Ship's deck.




On December 18, 1944, the Battleship and Task Force 38 were caught in a typhoon while steaming through the Philippine Sea.   Winds rapidly built to over 100 knots.  The ocean swells created high crests and deep troughs.  Three destroyers in the Task Force were lost.  On occasion, the Battleship rolled 30+ degrees, nearly lying flat on her side.  On the bow, the immense force folded the 20mm steel gun shields against the guns.

Crew Memories

The scariest time of my life was the typhoon Cobra off the Philippines.  We were fueling destroyers ... and the seas were getting really rough.  We fueled them as long as we could then it started to get dangerous....  The captain ordered us to just cut the ropes and get out of there as it was getting worse by the second.  We just left the fuel lines on the deck and everyone went below decks.

While playing pinochle one of our head men of the division walks by and tells about 15 of us to get our lifejackets on, we were going topside!  No Japanese plane ever scared me as much as this.  Three of us went to the very tip of the bow.  The others were spread out along the #1 turret and were going to tie down the fueling lines.  At the bow, before we even touched the lines, the ship went up on a swell and we knew we were going to take on a good bit of water,  so we grabbed onto whatever we could find.  We went down and about three feet of ocean hit us and sent us sprawling.  We got up and got back to position when we started to go up on a swell again, this time way up and when we started to head back down I knew this was going to be really bad.  I just remember being washed down the deck towards the #1 turret and hitting all those obstacles under all this water and when I came to a stop I was under the spray shield of the 16-inch gun.
- Bob Palomaris, Gunner's Mate 3/c

The pitch was much worse than the roll.  Each time the ship dipped into a trough between the waves, the bow would crash into one of the huge (70 foot) waves and a wall of green water would burst over the bow and roar, two or three feet high, over the main deck for the length of the ship.
- Ensign Al Dunn

Focus on Foc'sle Equipment

The foc'sle or forecastle is the area of the Main Deck forward of Turret #1.

Anchor Windlass  -  The two anchor windlasses raise and lower the anchor chains.  The motors for these gear driven windlasses are several decks below.

Anchor Chains  -  Each iron link in the chain weighs 80 pounds.  The chain is stored several decks below in the chain locker.

1.1-inch Quadruple Mount Gun

This weapon is a 1.1-inch antiaircraft gun.  When built, NORTH CAROLINA had four quadruple mounts placed several levels above the main deck - two on each side of the Ship, one pair forward, one pair aft.

Each gun had a crew of 15 men: gun captain, pointer, trainer, sightsetter, right and left cradleman, right and left loader,  plussix passers and a repairman.  The nearby director had a crew of 3 - officer, pointer, and trainer.  The loaders fed ammunition into the W-shaped cradles.  Each barrel had a cradle that held two 34-pound metal clips containing 8 rounds each.  The cradle rocked back and forth.  Once the guns started firing, the projectiles dropped one at a time into the gun's receiver.  When the clip was empty, the heavy weight of the full clip caused the cradle to swing and the loaded clip started to feed into the receiver.  Meanwhile, the empty clip was removed and the loader replaced it with a new clip.  with a practical rate of 100 rounds per minute, clips were replaced every five seconds.

A Mark 44 Director aimed and fired the gun.  It was a basic optical director, so it did not contain the lead computing components of later directors.  It did, however, remove the operator from the weapon's noise and smoke.  It served as the basis for future development of remote control directors for antiaircraft weapons such as the Mark 51 used with the Ship's 40mm guns.

Following WWI, airplanes rapidly improved, becoming faster and capable of carrying much heavier bomb loads.  Nations scrambled to develop better machine guns since the .30-caliber and .50-caliber machine guns were not effective.  A new weapon, the 1.1-inch gun, was rushed into development with production beginning in 1934.  They were not available in quantity until 1940 and by then, they were inadequate against the aircraft in service.  They also had a tendency to overheat and jam.

The Navy began to replace these inadequate guns with Swiss Oerlikon 20mm guns and Swedish Bofors 40mm guns.

The Ship's twelve .50-caliber and four 1.1-inch mounts were removed at Pearl Harbor in Novermber 1942.  The Ship received six additional 20mm guns (She already had 40 in place) and ten Swedish Bofors quadruple 40mm gun mounts.  Five more 40mm gun mounts were installed by November 1942.


effective horizontal range                  3000 yards
rate of fire per barrel                           150 rounds per minute, average
weight of projectile and powder           1.9 pounds
gun crew                                                   15 men

Signal Bridge

 The battleship's visual signals for communication included the flag hoist, semaphore, and a variety of flashing lights.  Fifteen signalmen and 25 seamen training to qualify as signalmen were assigned to duty on the Signal Bridge in shifts around the clock.  They watched for signals from other ships, maintained equipment, and sent signals when required.

Semaphore Signaling
Semaphore was a daytime signaling system used to pass messages between ships close at sea or in port.  It was generally used for administrative messages.  A signalman held two flags and extended his arms to different positions representing letters of the alphabet.  A signalman third class was expected to send and receive at the rate of 20 words per minute.

Flag Hoist Signaling
Signal flags were used to send visual messages, usually orders that called for immediate action, to a number of ships.  Each flag represented a letter, number, or phrase.  Othe0rs had special meanings.  Alphabet flags were rarely, if ever, used to spell out words but conveyed a coded message.  The US Navy had its own code book while the International Code of Signals was known to all nations and merchant ships.

Flags (two of each) were hung alphabetically on "fingers" in the flag bag, which allowed air to circulate and kept the flags from mildewing. When sending a message, the signalman clipped the required flags together, then hoisted the signal.  Usually two to five flags were used as a code for a phrase and phrases could be linked together.  Flags could be read 8-10 miles away or the message was passed down the line in convoys or task forces.

Sun Over the Yardarm
A "yard" is a term for a pole or spar attached to the middle portion of a mast running across the ship to support square sails or signal flags.  The "yard arm" refers to the outer end of the yard.  The Battleship's call sign "NIBK" is hanging from the yardarm.

On sailing ships in the North Atlantic in the summer, the sun rose above the yardarm around 11AM, the hour the first rum drink of the day was issued to officers and crew.  On shore, the expression when the "sun is over the yardarm" came to mean the end of the workday and the hour for a drink.

Crew Memories

We were the best signal gang in the fleet.  We would watch the flagship raise her flag hoist.  (An admiral or other unit commander exercises command from a flagship.We kept eyes on that all the time.  The flagship would raise her flag hoist - instructions, turning, and speed.  As it came out of the bag, someone looking through a long glass would say, "Stand by your bags" and relay the first flag coming out of the bag.  He would yell, "Able,"  [Affirm] and the signalman would repeat "Able," and hook it on the hoist while another signalman would pull it up.  They would call out each one and you would hook each one up as it went.  You would take it up about half way and hole it there and relay the message and look it up in the general signal book and tell the officer of the deck what the signal was.  When your hoist is all the way up that is "two blocks" and that means the signal is received and understood.  Then you would watch the flags [on the other ship] and the minute they broke that signal down you would execute the instruction.
-  Jackson Belford, Signalman 3/c

Abandon Ship!

The Captain could give the ABANDON SHIP order due to fire, sinking, or other life threatening conditions.  If the crew heard ABANDON SHIP, they would report to their embarkation station with life preservers, balsa life floats, and float nets.  If possible, they were to cut loose and launch the two 26-foot motor whaleboats.  There were life floats and float nets mounted on the Main Deck and 01 level (one level above the Main Deck).  Ideally, the floater nets and life floats would be lashed together and towed by two small boats.

There were different types of life preservers.  A lifejacket called a kapok was stuffed with the light, waterproof waterproof fiber from the tropical kapok tree.  In early 1943, additional inflatable life belts were distributed to crew whose battle stations were in confined spaces.  The wearer inflated the canvas belt's internal rubber tubes when he was in the water.

If a real abandon ship occurred the Chief Master-at-Arms released any prisoners.  The Medical Officer arranged for the transportation of the sick.  Medical, navigation, and signal supplies were placed on board the small boats.  The Executive Officer's Office and Supply Department tried to save monies and accounts, postal records, master rolls, and personnel records and the Code Room had orders to destroy "secret" and "confidential" publications and records.

Crew Memories

The crew at battle stations topside had life jackets.  The men at battle stations below the Main Deck did not have life jackets.  When you realize the condition the Ship would have to be in before it would be abandoned, and you are dogged three or more decks down in powder rooms, engine rooms, radio rooms, etc., life jacket are not of much use.  I always accepted the fact that from that area, with the Ship sinking and a half dozen or more dogged down hatches to go through to get topside to the life jackets, I would be going down with the Ship.
- Richard McCullough, Radioman 1/c

The life rafts, I guess, were kind of a backup for the shortage of the life jackets.  They were well equipped with medical, k-rations, keg of fresh water, plus a sail or a canvas for covering to protect you against the heat and sun, and two paddles.  We had two rafts we had to maintain.  We had water kegs in them for survival equipment that we changed periodically and made sure the medical equipment and all the paddles and sails were secured properly.  The life rafts were secured with a devise so that if we did not have time to take them down and the Ship sunk, the pressure would release the raft.
- Paul Wieser, Boatswain's Mate 1/c

We never thought about an order to ABANDON SHIP.  We were resigned to stay at our battle station.  The secured compartments were designed to prevent the spread of fire and flooding.  We were a fighting warship that was prepared to meet the enemy and fight to the finish.  We were the NORTH CAROLINA and we were prepared to destroy the enemy.
-Charles Foster, Printer's Mate 1/c

Diary Excerpts
Diaries were illegal.  The men who had them found good hiding places.

13 January 1943 - Today we had a practice GQ and ABANDON SHIP drill.  When we reached our ABANDON SHIP station on the starboard side amidships, we received a surprise.  We were ordered to remove our shoes and leave them on the deck.
     We were then told to go over the side.  We had already donned our life jackets as part of the drill, but then had to dive off the Ship.  I had never dived from that height (about 20 feet) before so I was quite scared.  We had previously been instructed on how to hold on the life preserver to prevent it from choking you when you dived feet first into the water.
     Life rafts had been positioned 100 feet from the Ship and we were instructed to swim to them.  It was a strange feeling to leave the old girl in this manner.  As I swam toward the raft I looked back at the huge steel hulk rising up to what looked like hundreds of feet.
     It seemed very strange to be in the water and pretending that she was sinking.  I thought, would she suck us down being that close?  I also thought what condition would she and we would be in after a battle that required us to abandon her.  Sharks were known to be in these waters, so a couple of Marines were stationed along the lifelines with rifles to shoot any that showed themselves.
- Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c

Sources:  Our State Magazine, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

Any inaccuracies contained here are all mine.  And I apologize.


Mr. P said...

Thank you for your post. I enjoyed it immensely. I may need to travel to Wilmington to see the North Carolina.

tortietat said...

Rosie, thank you for the history lesson. I've visited the USS North Carolina several times, but enjoyed reading all your information.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thank you, Mr. P and Tortietat.

And Mr. P, if you ever travel to Wilmington, you can drop off OG at my house!

KlingerCrazy said...

Great detailed article! My Uncle Tracy H Wilder Jr USN-RET was on her and has many written commentaries throughout the ship. I have visited & hoped to do as you have with much less sucess! I live in Myrtle Beach South Carolina not far from BB-55. Hope to see her again soon. Thank you for all your hard work developing this great page!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

KC, Thanks for your kind words. Being on that ship is a humbling experience.

Anonymous said...

I have so enjoyed this! My grandfather Bob Spear served on her. I visited Wilmington and toured the ship - Humbling and remarkable.

I hope to go again one day.. This lovely post and photographs are so much better than my own were. Thank you!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Eileen, thank you for commenting. And many thanks to your grandfather for his service!