Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Tarheel

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According to Wikipedia, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was the title of the first multi-page newspaper published in the Americas. Before then, single-page newspapers, called broadsides, were published in the English colonies and printed in Cambridge in 1689. The first edition was published September 25, 1690, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was intended to be published monthly, “or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener.” It was printed by American Richard Pierce of Boston, and it was edited by Benjamin Harris, who had previously published a newspaper in London. The paper contained four six by ten inch pages, and filled only three of them.

On the mark of this anniversary, we ask, did you know the BB55 had a newspaper? It first published April 12, 1941 concluding with the final issue on October 17,1942. The first Print Shop was removed to add extra storage space and reduce weight. The current Print Shop on 3rd deck was added (or returned) in 1944 when the Ship was at Pearl Harbor for service and repairs.


Saturday, April 12, 1941 Editorial
“With this first issue, we are launching The Tarheel, ship’s paper of the U.S.S. North Carolina. It will be a weekly chronicle devoted to the ship, events in the lives of those of us who man it and the naval history of which it will play a part. As manning a ship is “All Hands” job, so the Tarheel will be the paper of everyone aboard, from the Captain to our newest apprentice seaman.”

May 31, 1941
“The staff asks one more thing of you – have your contributions turned in by Wednesday morning. The printers to whom we all owe a big vote of confidence have been losing lots of sleep working at night because the “dope” has been delivered to them late.”

Last issue, October 17, 1942
Tarheel Leaves Footprints
The Tarheel began publication three days after this ship was commissioned, and a copy has been issued every Saturday during the 18 months since; but, this is the last issue for the duration, for the Print Shop and printer personnel are leaving us until happy days are here again.

To D.W. Owen and his great gang, we say, simply, and sincerely, Thank you for a job well done. And a chins up Cherrio to all our contributors and friends.

Currently, the Friends of the Battleship North Carolina also produce a bi-monthly e-newsletter, entitled Scuttlebutt.  Many issues include great insights of the ships history, system operations, current events and maintenance projects aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. If you would like to receive this free e-publication, email or click on the link below and subscribe to our issuu page.


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BB55 in typhoon

On December 18, 1944, the Battleship and Task Force 38 were caught in a typhoon while steaming through the Philippine Sea. Winds rapidly built up to over 100 knots. The ocean swells created high crests and deep troughs. Three destroyers in the Task Force were lost. On occasion the Battleship rolled 30+ degrees, nearly lying flat on her side. On the bow, the immense force folded the 20mm steel gun shields against the guns.

“The scariest time of my life was the typhoon Cobra off the Philippines. We were fueling destroyers…and the seas were getting really rough. We fueled them as long as we could then it started to get dangerous…. The captain ordered us to just cut the ropes and get out of there as it was getting worse by the second. We just left the fuel lines on the deck and everyone went below decks.

While playing pinochle one of our head men of the division walks by and tells about 15 of us to get our lifejackets on, we were going topside! No Japanese plane ever scared me as much as this. Three of us went to the very tip of the bow. The others were spread out along the #1 turret and were going to tie down the fueling lines. At the bow, before we even touched the lines, the ship went up on a swell and we knew were going to take on a good bit of water; so we grabbed onto whatever we could find. We went down and about three feet of ocean hit us and sent us sprawling. We got up and got back to position when we started to go up on a swell again, this time way up and when we started to head back down I knew this was going to be really bad. I just remember being washed down the deck towards the #1 turret and hitting all those obstacles under all this water; and when I came to a stop I was under the spray shield of the 16-inch gun.”

Bob Palomaris, Gunner’s Mate 3/c

“The pitch was much worse than the roll. Each time the ship dipped into a trough between the waves, a the bow would crash into one of the huge (70 foot) waves and a wall of green water would burst over the bow and roar, two or three feet high, over the main deck for the length of the ship.”

Ensign Al Dunn



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torpedo damage view

Torpedo Damage

On September 15, 1942, Japanese submarine I-19 quickly fired six long-range torpedoes at the U.S. carrier WASP. Three torpedoes struck their target causing such damage that the task force commander ordered WASP to be sunk that night. The remaining three torpedoes raced on across several miles into a second carrier force. One torpedo slammed into the U.S. destroyer O’BRIEN that would break up several weeks later due to severe hull damage.

Another torpedo blasted NORTH CAROLINA on her port (left) side just forward of the thick armor belt designed to protect her from torpedoes. The enormous blast shook the Ship and crew and sent tons of oil and water skyward. Tons more water quickly flooded into the resulting 32 by 18 foot hole causing the Ship to lean, a situation the crew quickly corrected by purposefully flooding compartments on the opposite side. Five men were killed and 23 were wounded.

Ingwald Nelson

Ingwald Nels Nelson

Killed in Action:
Albert Speers Geary (washed overboard)
Ingwald Nels Nelson
Leonard Edward Pone
William Osborne Skelton
Oscar Callaway Stone

Burial at Tongatabu

“The Showboat took a torpedo (September 15, 1942) on the port side forward of amidships. I was knocked ass over teakettle over and through a gun blister, but was able to make it to my battle station. The torpedo punctured some fuel tanks and started a fire, which got into the lower handling room of Turret II. The fuel was actually burning on the floor of the projectile room. The sprinklers were activated and the turret crew came streaming out the hatch with the smoke in swift pursuit. The word was passed ‘Stand by to abandon ship’ because if Turret II went, the whole ship would explode like a Chinese firecracker, right down the middle where all the 5-inch magazines were. It so happened that we were one lifejacket short, for some reason, so I didn’t have one. My phone talker, assessing the situation, said, ‘Here Mr. Gallagher, take my lifejacket, I’m a good swimmer.’ Fortunately, the situation improved so abandoning the ship wasn’t necessary, but I’ll always remember that young sailor and his thoughtfulness.”

Lieutenant Edward Gallagher

“I was down taking a shower, didn’t have a stitch of clothes on, had just gotten out of the shower, and had the towel going on my back drying my back. There was a big explosion. I couldn’t hear anything, and the next thing I knew I was in the water and oil and there were two other guys pretty close to me, but I somehow got out. But I’ll never forget it, the sight that I saw. I saw the prettiest roses you ever laid you eyes on. I saw my name. At the time I was from Lynchburg, Virginia. And I saw my name in the Lynchburg paper, ‘Walter T. Babcock,’ and I’m going to tell you like is was, ‘Walter T. Babcock, killed in action.’ And I don’t remember getting from down the third deck up to topside. The only thing I know, and I’m telling the truth, I saw my mother and father. One caught one hand and one caught the other and I actually talked to them.”

Walter Babcock, Ship’s Cook 3/c

Torpedo damage

“I knew that the WASP was torpedoed so I went to my battle station right away and I was sitting up on top of Sky 2 before we got hit (by a torpedo). One of the fire control men was the hairiest guy we ever saw. He was in the shower at the time. He was all soaped up and when we got hit, he took from the shower and was running up on the port side of the ship and I am looking at him go by on the main deck and all I can see is hair and soap suds. No clothes on. He went into turret one. That was his battle station. There was a fire in the magazines so they flooded the magazine and they abandoned turret one. Here he comes, still with no clothes on, but soapsuds, running back down again. I was telling him about it afterwards. He said ‘Well, it wasn’t funny.’ I said, ‘You weren’t sitting where I was.’”

Harold Smith, Firecontrolman 1/c

I was almost knocked out of a bunk I was lying in reading. They’re passing word now for all hands to man battle stations. As I ran through a passageway…I saw smoke coming in through the ventilators. I was just at the head where the torpedo hit. I passed three shipfitters on my way out and some men showering, etc. They are all done for. Another 15 or 20 minutes and I’d have been a goner. Most of the magazines are flooded with water and fuel oil! Turret I is out of commission. Our radar is out of commission. Our #1 Director is also out of commission. Last but not least, also our catapults. We’ve lost 25,000 gallons of fuel oil so far. We’re leaving an oil wake behind us. Admiral gave us word to head into port as our oil slick is jeopardizing the remaining Task Force.

Mike Marko, Machinist’s Mate 2/c, diary entry. Diaries were illegal, but some men found good hiding places