This week the NC House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would designate the battleship the USS North Carolina as the official battleship of the state of North Carolina.
Lawmakers supporting the bill – including one of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Jon Hardister – say this is an obvious move given the immense contributions the ship has made to keeping this country safe and defeating America’s enemies. Backers of the bill said the vote this week provides well-deserved recognition to the ship that has made the state proud.
According to the sponsors of the legislation, the goal of this bill – that’s now likely to become law – is to honor the veterans of World War II through recognition of the battleship that played a role in every naval offensive in the Pacific theatre in that war. During the war, the USS North Carolina earned 15 battle stars and became the most decorated American battleship of WWII.
According to the bill’s sponsors, the ship “symbolizes North Carolina’s rich history of military service and dedication to freedom.”
While the ship only recently began down the legislative path to being named the official state ship, it’s been the pride of the state for many decades. After active service, the ship, which has nine levels, was restored and docked in Wilmington as a memorial and tourist attraction that opened to the public in October 1961.
The ship was commissioned on April 9, 1941 and made vital contributions in WWII. In 1942, the ship’s anti-aircraft fire helped save the carrier the Enterprise – an event that military experts say began to establish the use of fast battleships to protect aircraft carriers. Throughout the war, the ship bombarded coastlines, sank enemy ships and blew enemy aircraft out of the sky. At the time the USS North Carolina was built it was considered to be the most dangerous ship in the water anywhere in the world.
According to literature posted at the memorial’s website, the ship traveled over 300,000 miles in its service to this country and, many times during that service, enemies claimed the ship had been sunk. “Although Japanese radio announcements claimed six times that NORTH CAROLINA had been sunk,” one description reads, “she survived many close calls and near misses with one hit when a Japanese torpedo slammed into the Battleship’s hull on 15 September 1942. A quick response on the part of the crew allowed the mighty ship to keep up with the fleet. By war’s end, the Ship lost only ten men in action and had 67 wounded.”