Battleship North Carolina

Visit in September 2015 to the USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship, now a museum in Wilmington NC.
IMG 3082  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. IMG 2949  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. IMG 2954  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. IMG 2955  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.
IMG 2956  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. IMG 3017  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. IMG 3018  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. IMG 3019  16-inch gun breeches.
IMG 3020  Inside the 16-inch gun turret. The rounded cover upper right held the gun elevation shaft. IMG 3021  There was one tragic instance of death and injury caused accidently by "friendly fire". IMG 3022  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. IMG 3023  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.
IMG 3024  A signal room. IMG 3025  View over the bow from the bridge. IMG 3026  Position indicator on the bridge. IMG 3027  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.
IMG 3028  Here I am giving mock gunnery a try. IMG 2976  Some of the North Carolina's 5-inch twin turrets. IMG 2977  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). IMG 2978
IMG 2979  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. IMG 2980  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. IMG 2981  This "small" diesel engine drove a generator. IMG 2982  Generator (left) and part of the control panel.
IMG 2983  One of the main turbine engines. There were two, one for each screw. IMG 2984  A potato peeling machine in the galley. IMG 2985  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. IMG 2986  Steering was simple, as you can see!
IMG 2987  These are the pistons that attach to the rudder (there were two rudders) for steering. IMG 2988  Mail call! IMG 2989  The ship's store. Not exactly a WalMart. IMG 2990  The "geedunk" where one could get ice cream.
IMG 2991  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. IMG 2992  The wishing well explained. IMG 2993  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. IMG 2994  Same bunk spacing I had on the Lloyd Thomas. But not quite as many in not quite as large a compartment.
IMG 2995  Machine room. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.) IMG 2996  Part of the fire control room. IMG 2997  The analog computer in the fire control room. IMG 2998  Part of the radio room.
IMG 2999  More of the radio room. Most messages were enciphered. IMG 3000  This is a cypher machine. Set the wheels to the day's key and type to encode or decode. IMG 3001  The actual dial readouts that could be communicated to the 16- and 5-inch gun turrets for aiming. IMG 3002  16-inch projectiles in the 2nd turret mezzanine. Note that the entire thing is a "carousel".
IMG 3003  The only "mezzanine". IMG 3004  Drums for holding powder bags. Each drum held three bags. That made handling easier. IMG 3005  Ruth shows the size of a powder bag. IMG 3006  How ordinance changes.
IMG 3007  A projectile in a hoist to the turret. IMG 3008  The dispensary. The bunks are for the Pharmacists Mates (medical corpsmen). IMG 3009  The operating room. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.) IMG 3010  Sick bay. (The Lloyd Thomas didn't have one.)
IMG 3011  A photo of the Warrant Officers' wardroom. The Lloyd Thomas had no Warrant Officers aboard. IMG 3014  Yours truly, ready for some duck hunting. IMG 3015