north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The keel for the USS North Carolina was laid in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on October 27, 1937. The 728-foot, 35,000-ton ship was launched on June 13, 1940, and officially commissioned on April 9, 1941. The battleship was the first in the American fleet to incorporate new shipbuilding technology. “North Carolina class” soon became a designation for an entire category.

     The USS North Carolina was the fourth warship to bear the state’s name. Preceding it in maritime history were a sailing vessel built in Philadelphia and operated from 1820 to 1839; an ironclad sloop built by the Confederacy and sunk in 1864 in the Cape Fear River; and an armorclad cruiser built in Newport News in 1906 and scrapped in 1930.

     The battleship’s first commanding officer was Capt. Olaf M. Hustavedt, who oversaw a crew of 108 officers and 1,722 enlisted men. The ship left Norfolk, Virginia, on June 5, 1942, for Pacific service, which included operations at Guadalcanal, Marshall Island, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In October 1945 the ship returned to Boston harbor. Following a training cruise in the Caribbean, the USS North Carolina was decommissioned on June 23, 1947. Advances in warfare achieved during World War II rendered gunships fallible and less effective. Afterwards battleships were relegated to the escort of aircraft carriers or bombardment in support of landing forces.

     All ships of the class except the USS Missouri were withdrawn from service after World War II. The Iowa, New Jersey, and Wisconsin were later reactivated. Through the efforts of Luther Hodges, Terry Sanford, Hugh Morton, and others, as well as schoolchildren who contributed their nickels and dimes, the USS North Carolina was brought to a permanent birth in Wilmington on October 2, 1961. It was dedicated as a memorial on April 29, 1962, and today averages over 230,000 visitors per year.

Joe A. Mobley, USS North Carolina: Symbol of a Vanished Age (1985)
Battleship North Carolina website:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources