USS North Carolina (BB-55) is the lead ship of the North Carolina class of fast battleships, the very first vessel of the type built for the United States Navy. Built under the Washington Treaty system, North Carolina’s style was restricted in displacement and armament, though the United States used a provision in the Second London Naval Treaty to increase the primary battery from the initial armament of twelve 14-inch (356 mm) guns to 916 in (406 mm) guns. The ship was laid down in 1937 and finished in April 1941, while the United States was still neutral throughout World War II. During this period, she operated off the eastern coast of the United States.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, North Carolina mobilized for war and was at first sent to Iceland to counter a possible sortie by the German battleship Tirpitz, though this did not materialize and North Carolina was quickly transferred to the Pacific to strengthen Allied forces during the Guadalcanal campaign. There, she evaluated aircraft carriers taken part in the campaign and participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 – 25 August 1942, where she shot down several Japanese aircraft.
The next month, she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine however was not seriously harmed. After repairs, she went back to the campaign and continued to screen carriers during the campaigns across the central Pacific in 1943 and 1944, consisting of the Gilberts and the Marshall Islands and the Mariana and Palau Islands, where she saw action throughout the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
The ship was going through a refit throughout the intrusion of the Philippines but took part in the later phases of the Philippines campaign and existed when the fleet was harmed by Tropical cyclone Cobra. She participated in offensive operations in support of the Fights of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945, including various attacks on Japan.
Following the surrender of Japan in August, she carried American personnel home during Operation Magic Carpet. North Carolina ran briefly off the east coast of the United States in 1946 prior to being decommissioned the next year and placed in reserve. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1960, the ship was saved from the breaker’s yard by a campaign to preserve the vessel as a museum ship in her namesake state. In 1962, the North Carolina museum was opened in Wilmington, North Carolina (https://treeservicewilmingtonnc.com).
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