Battleship North Carolina, a magnificent WWII memorial in Wilmington harbor

North Carolina is one of the most decorated and beloved battleships in US naval history. During World War II North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific and earned 15 Battle Stars. She became the first of 10 fast battleships to join the fleet in WWII.

Military Highlights (courtesy of Battleship NC website)

The Showboat North Carolina

The Showboat North Carolina

• The Battleship carried out 9 shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship, destroyed at least 24 enemy aircraft, and assisted in shooting down many more. Despite its extensive combat North Carolina had only 10 men lost and 67 wounded.

North Carolina was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in 10 twin mounts, North Carolina proved a formidable weapons platform.

• 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including 100 Marines had the privilege to serve on the Battleship. Here are some of the most intimate combat encounters and funny recollections about the life on the Battleship.

Despite all her accomplishments, she was almost scrapped in 1958. Luckily a statewide SOS campaign led by NC citizens saved her from destruction and on April 29, 1962, North Carolina became a state memorial to its WWII veterans.

Exciting Things To Do on the Tour

Battleship Stern Turret 3 with 16-inch Guns

Battleship Stern Turret 3 with 16-inch Guns


• Explore 9 open decks, enter gun turrets, view the officers and crew quarters, mess hall, engine room, and more.

• Discover the ship’s city-like lifestyle with diners, movie theater, church, post office, laundry, ice cream shop, newspaper, barber shops and repair shops.

• See one of the 7 remaining Vought Kingfisher floatplanes in the world.

• Make a Wish – You will see several ammunition loading trunks on the tour. A trunk is a series of openings for transporting supplies (projectiles, powder cans). One of them was turned into a Wishing Well. All coins go to the Restoration Fund.

Tips to Know Before You Go

• Wear very comfortable shoes. Get ready for steep walks and even crawls up and down the decks. Beware there is some construction going on the main deck. When in doubt, just pick-up and carry the kids to avoid any drama.

• The tour is well marked. You may end up going in circles but you can’t really get lost. Just follow the “Yellow Road” signs and you’ll be fine.

Checking Turret 2

Checking Turret 2

• Spend time and read the inscriptions. The are touching stories and funny quotes from former Battleship seamen. This is when the ship really comes to life!

• The only handicap accessible area is the main deck. Accessibility to most of the exhibits should increase once Phase III of the Restoration Project is complete.

• You can spice up your trip and arrive at the Battleship by water (from downtown Wilmington) aboard the historic Maffitt River Taxi.

They also do sightseeing cruises on the Cape Fear River. Call 1-800-676-0162 for details.

Battleship Admission and Hours
Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and military, $6 children 6-11 and FREE for children 5 and under.

North Carolina is open daily year round. Memorial Day through Labor Day from 8AM to 8PM. All other days the ship is open 8AM to 5PM.

The self-guided tour usually takes 2 hours to complete. For the enthusiast, it can easily take 4 hours to fully experience the ship given the extensive signage throughout the ship.

Drive to Charleston SC to pay tribute to “The Fighting Lady”, the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier and to see the historic Fort Sumter National Monument where the Civil War started.

While in Wilmington visit the one and only Cape Fear Serpentarium featuring the world’s largest collection of deadly venomous snakes. It cost only $8 to get it and see the incredible live feedings.

Also downtown Wilmington you can see the NC Railroad Museum, a magical place for kids of ages, featuring the largest museum-quality model trains layout in the Southeast. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors and military, $3 children 2-12 years old.

Be a proud American aboard Battleship North Carolina!

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6 Responses

  1. […] The beloved “Showboat” North Carolina has been welcoming visitors for the last 50 years. Harbored on the Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington the majestic Battleship she is now a perennial tribute to our heroes. […]

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  6. wow !!!! this website is amazing i love history it is my fav. lol!!!!! wish i could could have been in the action!!!! ttyl

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