Visit in September 2015 to the USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship, now a museum in Wilmington NC.
1 Her keel was laid in New York Navy Yard on October 27, 1947. She was launched on June 13, 1940 and commissioned on April 9, 1941. She was in the US Atlantic Fleet when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941 but she immediately steamed to the Pacific, where she fought in every major island engagement of WWII and earning 15 Battle Stars became the US Navy's most decorated battleship. She was decommissioned on June 27, 1947, moved to Wilmington on October 2, 1961 and dedicated as a museum on April 29, 1962. She was the third US Navy ship to be named "North Carolina, the first being a wooden frigate, the second being an ironclad, and herself. There is currently a fourth, a nuclear submarine.
2 I served aboard a WWII-era DDE (destroyer/destroyer escort) named the USS Lloyd Thomas, a USS Gearing-class "tin can" and I wanted to visit the Battleship (BB) North Carolina to make a comparison; there having been no US battleships in commissioned status during my time in service (1958-60). The comparisons were striking. I found only one thing the same: On my ship, I could rest my elbow on my bunk and touch the bunk above. It was the same on the North Carolina. But the NC had over 19 times the displacement (44,800 tons), and armor up to 48 times thicker (up to 12 inches vs. a quarter-inch). Plus the NC had outer cladding of three-quarter-inch specially-treated steel.
The NC had nine 16-inch guns in three triple-gun turrets and twenty 5-inch guns in ten twin-gun turrets; the LT had four 5-inch guns in two twin turrets. The LT did have torpedo tubes, whilst the NC had none. But the NC also had up to sixty 40-mm guns and fifty-three 20-mm guns for antiaircraft use, whilst the LT had none. The LT had antisubmarine weapons -- "hedgehogs" and depth charges -- lacking on the NC.
3 The North Carolina had a complement of 141 officers and 2,115 enlisted men, plus 85 Marines. The Lloyd Thomas had a total of about 195 officers and men, but no Marines. I don't know what sort of fuel milage the Lloyd Thomas got, but the North Carolina had to carry 2 million gallons of diesel fuel because it took 166 gallons to propel her a mile. That works out to 31.8 feet per gallon. Her top speed was 28 knots. On the LT, flank speed was 24 knots, although when I was aboard she once reached 28.4 knots, but only after pre-heating turbine steam for four hours. And at that speed we'd have run out of fuel after a few hours.
4 In wartime, the North Carolina lost ten men in action and had 67 wounded. She steamed 300,000 miles (equal to around the world 12 times at the equator) and survived a Japanese torpedo hit on September 15, 1942.
5 The North Carolina carried out nine shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship and was credited with downing 24 enemy aircraft. The Japanese claimed to hav sunk her no fewer then six times! One of the pilots of her Kingfisher seaplanes (she had two) heroically rescued ten downed US Navy aviators off Truk on APril 30, 1944.
6 The two forward triple 16-inch gun turrets. Because the turret iimmediately in front of the bridge was on the "01 deck" one level above the forward turret, there was room inside/below for a mezzanine level of ammunitin storage.
7 Inside a 16-inch turret. One had to duck under the shaft for elevating the guns when using the treads you see on the curved turret floor.
8 16-inch gun breeches.
9 Inside the 16-inch gun turret. The rounded cover upper right held the gun elevation shaft.
10 There was one tragic instance of death and injury caused accidently by "friendly fire".
11 Ruth surveys the bridge. It was remarkably small, having only two seats; one for the Captain and the other for the Officer of the Deck. To her left is the engine order telegraph. In front of her are the wheel and compass repeaters, both gyro and magnetic, and to her right against the bulkhead is a chart table.
12 Spartan quarters: The Captain's sea cabin. He also had a stateroom, as did the flag officer (an Admiral), but we could not ascend higher in the superstructure than the bridge and so did not see those.
13 A signal room.
14 View over the bow from the bridge.
15 Position indicator on the bridge.
16 Quad (two twin) 40-mm antiaircraft guns. The gunner on the left controlled only azmuth by cranking and the right gunner could only crank for elevation. How they could ever hit a fast moving airplane was a miracle.
17 Here I am giving mock gunnery a try.
18 Some of the North Carolina's 5-inch twin turrets.
19 A Kingfisher. Mostly used for spotting and with two wing bombs (no guns) capable also of very limited offensive action. Able to land on its floats, also capable of rescue missions. Each battleship had two Kingfishers. They were launched using catapault assist and landed at sea and weere then hoisted aboard using the crane (left).
21 The 16-inch projectiles weighed from 1700 to nearly 2000 pounds and had ranges, depending on weight, of from 21 to nearly 30 miles. Fewer than 3000 rounds were ever fired in anger by the North Carolina.
22 This is a generator control panel. The North Carolina produced about 8.4 megawatts of power, about the amount used by a town of 6,500 nowadays.
23 This "small" diesel engine drove a generator.
24 Generator (left) and part of the control panel.
25 One of the main turbine engines. There were two, one for each screw.
26 A potato peeling machine in the galley.
27 Steering motors. This is in the "after steering" compartment, which could steer the ship by orders communicated from the bridge in the event of loss of servomotor cabability from the wheel on the bridge.
28 Steering was simple, as you can see!
29 These are the pistons that attach to the rudder (there were two rudders) for steering.
30 Mail call!
31 The ship's store. Not exactly a WalMart.
32 The "geedunk" where one could get ice cream.
33 The "wishing well" reached from the first compartment below the main deck all the way down to just above the bilge, and provided access to stores and ammo.
34 The wishing well explained.
35 The galley. For enlisted men E-6 and below. The Chief Petty officers (E-7), the Warrant Officers, and the Commissioned Officiers each had their own galley and mess or wardroom.
36 Same bunk spacing I had on the Lloyd Thomas. But not quite as many in not quite as large a compartment.
37 Machine room. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.)
38 Part of the fire control room.
39 The analog computer in the fire control room.
40 Part of the radio room.
41 More of the radio room. Most messages were enciphered.
42 This is a cypher machine. Set the wheels to the day's key and type to encode or decode.
43 The actual dial readouts that could be communicated to the 16- and 5-inch gun turrets for aiming.
44 16-inch projectiles in the 2nd turret mezzanine. Note that the entire thing is a "carousel".
45 The only "mezzanine".
46 Drums for holding powder bags. Each drum held three bags. That made handling easier.
47 Ruth shows the size of a powder bag.
48 How ordinance changes.
49 A projectile in a hoist to the turret.
50 The dispensary. The bunks are for the Pharmacists Mates (medical corpsmen).
51 The operating room. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.)
52 Sick bay. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.)
53 A photo of the Warrant Officers' wardroom. The Lloyd Thomas had no Warrant Officers aboard.