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NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

BB-55 USS North Carolina
Keel Laying - Commissioning;
1937 - April 1941

Radio Call Sign: November - India - Bravo - Kilo

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Shakedown Cruise & Fitting Out / April 1941 - May 1942
June 1942 - 1943
1944 - 1945
Postwar - 1961
1962 - Present


North Carolina Class Battleship: Displacement 35,000 Tons, Dimensions, 728' 9" (oa) x 108' 4" x 35' 6" (Max). Armament 9 x 16"/45 20 x 5"/38AA, 16 x 1.1" 12 x 0.5", 3 AC. Armor, 12" Belt, 16" Turrets, 1 1/2" Main Deck, +5 1/2" Armored (2nd) deck, +3/4" Third Deck, 16" Conning Tower. Machinery, 115,000 SHP; G.E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws. Speed, 27 Knots, Crew 1880.

Operational and Building Data: Laid down by New York Navy Yard, October 27, 1937. Launched June 13, 1940. Commissioned April 9, 1941. Decommissioned June 27, 1947. Stricken June 1, 1960.
Fate: Preserved as Memorial in Wilmington North Carolina, September 6, 1961.

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BB-55336kPage 1 of a 2 page letter from Admiral J.M. Reeves, the senior member of the General Board of the Navy Department to Sec.Nav Charles A. Swanson to give to President Franklin D. Roosevelt stating the case for 16" main armament over 14", dated 17 May 1937.
FDR did not want the U.S. to be the first power to violate the Washington & London Naval treaties concerning gun limitations.
Photo and text from the article "Gun Calibers & Battle Zones; The USN's Foremost Concern During the 1930's", by Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., courtesy of Warship International, pg. 26. No. 1, 1980.
BB-55423kPage 2 of a 2 page letter from Admiral J.M. Reeves, the senior member of the General Board of the Navy Department to Sec.Nav Charles A. Swanson to give to President Franklin D. Roosevelt stating the case for 16" main armament over 14".
FDR did not want the U.S. to be the first power to violate the Washington & London Naval treaties concerning gun limitations.
Photo and text from the article "Gun Calibers & Battle Zones; The USN's Foremost Concern During the 1930's", by Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., courtesy of Warship International, pg. 26. No. 1, 1980.
BB-55170k Rush plans for new U.S. Battleships. Washington, D.C., 23 June 1937. Scene in Construction and Repair Division of the U.S. Navy Department where plans for the two new 35,000 ton battleships are being rushed to completion. Work on the ships will get underway in four to six months, Charles Edison, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, announced. One will be built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the other at Philadelphia.Photo # LC-DIG-hec-22916 & text courtesy of the Harris & Ewing Collection.
BB-55145k New battleship design board. Washington, D.C., 8 October 1937. A special advisory board on battleship plans, which was recently named by Secretary of the Navy Swanson, held their initial meeting at the Navy Department today. The board will be charged with obtaining for the Navy Department the advice of outstanding experts in the principal fields of Naval construction to use in completing the designs of the two new battleships of the North Carolinan class (BB-55 / 56) In the photograph, left to right, (sitting): W.F. Gibbs, President of Gibbs and Cox, Inc.; Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison; and Admiral Joseph Strauss, U.S.N. Standing, left to right: John F. Metton, President, N.Y. Shipbuilding Corp.; Joseph W. Powell, United Shipyards Inc.; and Professor William Hovgaard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Photo # LC-DIG-hec-23466 photo & text courtesy of the Harris & Ewing Collection.
BB-55184kNavy opens bids for battle wagons. Washington, D.C., 2 November 1938. The Navy opened bids today on construction of three 35,000 ton battleships today, all bids specified that the dreadnaughts be completed within 52 months. The guns, armor plate, and other accessories to be furnished by the Government cost an estimated 15,000,000 dollars per ship. The ships are the first of that size to be built in 15 years. Seated, left. Admiral William Leahy, Chief of Naval Operations, and Sec. of the Navy Claude Swanson, right. Standing - left- Rear Admiral William G. Du Bose, Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and right- Rear Admiral Charles Conard, Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. Photo # LC-DIG-hec-25307 & text courtesy of the Harris & Ewing Collection.
BB-55154kTable of Immunity Zones of a 14" vs a 16" shell in a letter from Admiral J.M. Reeves, the senior member of the General Board of the Navy Department to Sec.Nav Charles A. Swanson to give to President Franklin D. Roosevelt stating the case for 16" main armament over 14".
FDR did not want the U.S. to be the first power to violate the Washington & London Naval treaties concerning gun limitations.
Photo and text from the article "Gun Calibers & Battle Zones; The USN's Foremost Concern During the 1930's",by Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., courtesy of Warship International, pg. 27. No. 1, 1980.
North Carolina Class92k Model of the North Carolinan class (BB-55 / 56) without her propulsion system and skegs, 30 May 1937. Photo from National Archives & Record Administration (NARA), Record Group (RG-19N) Box 33. Courtesy of Dan Treadwell.
North Carolina Class94k Model of the North Carolinan class (BB-55 / 56) with her propulsion system and skegs, 30 May 1937. Photo from National Archives & Record Administration (NARA), Record Group (RG-19N) Box 33. Courtesy of Dan Treadwell.
BB-551.23kKeel laying at Brooklyn Navy Yard, NY. Lt Gov. William P Horton driving 2nd rivet, 27 October 1937.
Four other photos appear in this five photo PDF of the Keel laying at Brooklyn Navy Yard, NY.
NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
BB-55476k17 Photo PDF of thr turret mock up of the North Carolina class battleships. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com.
BB-5576kHull test model for the North Carolina class battleships Hull model numbers 3557, 3556 and 3460, photographed at the Experimental Model Basin, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., 5 October 1938. These models show the "twin skegs", supporting the inboard propeller shafts, that were developed for this battleship design. Flow lines are marked on hull model numbers 3557 and 3556. Copied from the Bureau of Ships monograph "United States Battleship Designs for World War II", dated 1 June 1946. USNHC # NH 93907.
BB-551.5k Rammer and Hydraulic Drive Assembly, General Arrangement Plan # 216402 for Battleships of the North Carolina Class (BB-55 / 56), dated 26 September 1939. USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-5573kBrooklyn Navy Yard NY. On building ways a few days before launching. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-5595kBrooklyn Navy Yard NY. On building ways three days before launching, 11 June 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-552.23kPreparing for launching, 11 June 1940.Photo courtesy of seastories.battleshipnc.com
BB-552.14kGovernor Hoey at the launching.Photo courtesy of seastories.battleshipnc.com
BB-55245k Launching Booklet of the North Carolina (BB-55), 13 June 1940.Photo contributed by Robert M. Cieri.
BB-55191k Miss Isabel Hoey, daughter of the Governor of North Carolina, makes an impact on the North Carolina (BB-55) on 13 June 1940. Photo courtesy of Ron Reeves, HTC, (ret.)
BB-552.31kSliding down the building ways, as she is launched at the New York Navy Yard, 13 June 1940. Note the slope of her side armor, angled outward 15 degrees to increase its effective thickness against incoming enemy shells.Text courtesy of USNHC # NH 44899.
Photo courtesy of seastories.battleshipnc.com
BB-5555kJune 1940, shortly after launching.USNI / USN photo.
BB-55103kBrooklyn Navy Yard, NY. Rudder rolled into place on rudder post. Steel cable on corner of turn table plate ready to turn rudder to 32°outboard angle so that rudder stock and crosshead may be installed as one unit, 19 August 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-55117k Brooklyn Navy Yard NY. 3 gun turret, hook on ready to lift aboard by hammerhead crane, 7 September 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-5584kBrooklyn Navy Yard NY. Shipping 3 gun turret, 7 September 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-55112k Brooklyn Navy Yard NY. Right Hand gun being lifted off dock for Turret # 2, 9 November 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-5579k Brooklyn Navy Yard NY. Lowering gun into Turret #2 between bulkheads, 9 November 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-55104k Brooklyn Navy Yard. Turret #3, 16" gun installation within a few inches of installing yoke, 18 November 1940. NARA (National Archives Record Administration) photo courtesy of battleshipnc.com.
BB-55123kNorth Carolina nearing completion in the New York Navy Yard, 1941.USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels.
BB-55374k Front cover of the North Carolina's (BB-55) Commissioning Program, 9 April 1941.Photo contributed by Robert M. Cieri.
BB-5552k North Carolina (BB-55) underway at New York early in 1941. N.Y. & Phila pooled their resources in constructing the North Carolina class battleships. New York prepared all plans except for turret plans, rotating shell rings, and lower roller path weldment drawings, which were prepared in Phila. The propeller plans were all done at Philadelphia as were most of the plans for improved internal bracing to alleviate the vibration problems.
Although these ships were ordered on 24 June with 14-inch guns, the Roosevelt administration announced its decision to increase the main battery to 16-inch on 10 July. Detailed weight calculations, including changes for the new main battery, weren't completed by the Bureau of Construction & Repair until October 1937. These calculations showed a "readjustment of the longitudinal center of gravity was required in order that proper trim conditions could be assured throughout their probable range of service loadings and that the full loads of liquids (fuel oil or replacing sea water ballast) could be carried.
This readjustment of longitudinal center of gravity involved moving the major part of the contents of the vessel forward two frames (8.0 feet) relative to the outer hull. As plan work had already started, and since the change was absolutely required, the New York Yard was instructed by the Bureau..."to proceed with the development of plans on the above basis..." The SecNav on 15 January 1938 authorized a one month extension in the building period for each ship.
Photo USNHC # NH 50138 and text from the article "Gun Calibers & Battle Zones; The USN's Foremost Concern During the 1930's", by Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., courtesy of Warship International, pg. 28. No. 1, 1980.
Additional text courtesy of Ron Smith.
BB-5577k The U.S. Navy's first post WW I design battleship, North Carolina (BB-55) fitting out at New York Navy Yard in early 1941. The stern of the new destroyer Edision (DD-439) appears to the left & the old destroyer Reuben James (DD-245) appears on the right foreground.
Note: Reuben James is in Measure 2 camouflage. The photo does not do much to show the true nature of the camouflage.
Three private yards competed with two Navy Yards for construction of the North Carolina ; Bethlehem Shipbuilding corp; New York SB Corp; & Newport News SB & DD Co. submitted bids of about $46 - 50 Million each, though Newport News stated that it could only accept the work if it were granted a "cost-plus 3.5%" price rather than a fixed price.
The Bureaus of Construction & Repair & of Engineering recommenced that Newport News bid be disqualified and recommended that North Carolina be assigned to New York and Washington (BB-56) to Philadelphia (each bidding only about $37M).
The set of recommendations was approved and messages making the formal construction awards were sent on 24 June 1937 to the two Navy Yards.
Photo USNHC # NH 50754 and text from the article "Gun Calibers & Battle Zones; The USN's Foremost Concern During the 1930's", by Professor Malcolm Muir Jr., courtesy of Warship International, pg. 28. No. 1, 1980.
Additional camouflage text courtesy of Ron Smith.
BB-55 North Carolina 176k Sailors and Navy officers standing beneath the 16-inch forward guns of the battleship North Carolina (BB-55), on the East river after she left the Brooklyn Nay Yard after her commissioning on 9 April 1941. Photographer: George Strock, courtesy of life.com.
BB-55 North Carolina 627k Commissioning Day Envelope. Photo from the Author's Collection.
Photo added 11/26/14.
BB-55 North Carolina 703k First Day In Commission Envelope. Photo from the Author's Collection.
Photo added 11/26/14.
BB-55 North Carolina 699k First Ships Church Easter Program, 13 April 1941. Photo from the Author's Collection.
Photo added 11/26/14.

USS North Carolina History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The Hazegray & Underway Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Contact Name: Mr. Gordon Knapp
Address: None
Phone: None
E-mail: knappga@webtv.net

Ship mailing address information
Battleship North Carolina (BB-55) PO Box 480 Wilmington, NC 28402-0480
E-mail: ncbb55@battleshipnc.com

Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.


Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway Battleship Pages By Andrew Toppan.
U.S.S. North Carolina (BB-55) Web site

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