Military Monday: The USS North Carolina

by Crocker on March 8, 2010, 12:01 pm

in History,Military

I’m something of a mil-blogger at heart and several of my mil-posts over the past year have received tremendous traffic – in particular my posts on DDG-1000 and non-acoustic submarine detection. Being a traffic-whore, I’ve decided to do a “Military Monday” feature from now on. Posts will reflect both current events and historical matters as the muse takes me.

This week’s subject is the USS North Carolina, a fast battleship constructed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and commissioned just prior to Pearl Harbor. “The Showboat” was the lead ship of a two-ship class (the other being Washington) and participated in nearly every campaign in the Pacific theater, earning more “battle stars” than any other American battleship. Decommissioned and held in reserve for fifteen years after the war, she is now a museum ship in Wilmington, North Carolina.

North Carolina was the first battleship authorized by Congress after completion of the Colorado-class in the early 1920s. Due to the Washington and London Naval Treaties, battleship construction came to a halt with significant tonnage and armament limitations being imposed on any new construction. With an “escalator” clause in the second London treaty, the North Carolina-class and the subsequent South Dakota-class (four ships) were up-gunned to the 16″/45 Mark 6 naval gun, which was a nominal improvement over the 16-inch guns carried by the Colorado-class. Apart from that change, both classes adhered to treaty tonnage limitations.

Designated a “fast” battleship, North Carolina was rated for 27 knots (as opposed to 21 for earlier classes). This was speedy enough to allow North Carolina to run with the fast carriers although the later Iowa-class had double the horsepower and a six-knot speed advantage as well as 16″/50 Mark 7 guns.

North Carolina rendered extraordinary service during WWII and probably changed the course of the Pacific war during the August 1942 Battle of the Eastern Solomons, in which the Showboat’s antiaircraft guns likely saved the carrier Enterprise from complete destruction. At that point of the war, the US had only four operational carriers in the Pacific. Within days, Saratoga would damaged by a Japanese torpedo, Wasp would be sunk by another torpedo in September and Hornet would be sunk in October at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, for a time leaving Enterprise as the only operational US carrier in the Pacific.

The following video is dedicated to North Carolina by the good people at Chattanooga Internet. The production values are great, as is Hans Zimmer’s music. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Heather Loftin March 15, 2010 at 7:30 am

We really have enjoyed watching the video and thank you for the wonderful blog.

Barbara Porath March 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

Thank you for this fantastic video and blog. My father was very proud that he served aboard the USS North Carolina.

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