Category Archives: Design

Commission Day

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New Battleship – A Symbol of Might

Worldwide press

On April 9, 1941, the “world’s fightingest ship” was commissioned at 11:30 a.m., in the New York Navy Yard. The event received tremendous media attention.

Ship's Company on April 9, 1941

“The 35,000-ton battleship NORTH CAROLINA, solid, gleaming symbol of America’s awakening from a sleep naval holiday of 18 years…. 29 minutes of ceremony in dazzling sunshine formally placed in service the $70,000,000 battleship it had taken nearly four years to build.” The commissioning was four months ahead of schedule.

“As bugles blared and white-capped officers and bluejackets saluted, a pennant was run slowly up the flagstaff to show that the ship was in commission. Millions listened over the radio as the mightiest battleship afloat was put into service.”

The Young Catholic Messenger, April 25, 1941

Colors raised April 9 1941

Battleship by artist Henry Billings, April 1941

“May the NORTH CAROLINA be a symbol of progress through strength,” wrote President Roosevelt.

Commision Day Menu Navy Yard

Commission Day Graphic

Following the ceremony a buffet luncheon in the Wardroom included “NORTH CAROLINA APPLE PIE.”

Invitation to Commission

Souvenir program April 1941

April 10, 1941

“Dear Husty: It was with great pride that I sat down to my bacon and eggs this A.M. after seeing your beaming countenance griming at me from the pages of the L.A. Times. There you were aboard the new battle wagon North Carolina. I pray that your ship will never be called upon to hurl her salvos against an enemy. But, if destiny rules otherwise, I know she will more than give an excellent account of herself in upholding the glorious traditions of our Country and the Navy for which all of us who are real Americans are prepared to battle and, if needs be, die for.”

Edward Sedgwick, MGM Pictures, letter to Captain Olaf Hustvedt, commanding officer USS NORTH CAROLINA

On the cover of Newsweek April 1941

 

The New Yorker magazine April 1941

“The commissioning was a great day of excitement. All the dignitaries around and high ranking admirals. Every sailor had to be on his toes and everything was ship shape the best way it could be on board. We were all dressed in blues for photos and the commissioning. It was a great day.”

Paul Charles Wenck, Seaman 1/c

 

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Knox, Hustvedt and Broughton

“I think that the ovation that ended the celebration in New York when the ship was commissioned was a tribute to a bunch of hard working people that our shipyards were. Our sailors and men were ready to go out and do whatever had to be done to win this war. And they did it. They really did it.”

Admiral Alfred Ward, USN (Ret.)

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

The Ship’s Birthday over the Years

April 9 1942

 

April 1942 field day

April 1942 jamboree

1942 – Casco Bay, Maine

“The good ship U.S.S. North Carolina celebrated her first birthday anniversary in a most enjoyable manner with a big party. The day dawned bright and fair, with sufficient snap in the air to add zest to the Field Day events. The afternoon jamboree completed the day’s festivities and as the curtain fell the entire ship’s company expressed in words or actions their thanks to all. Thus was another link forged our chain of important events. When our baptismal fire is upon us, we feel certain that by such displayed unity of action our anchor of faith in our purpose will find all tried and true.”

Tarheel, April 11, 1942

1943 – Pearl Harbor

“0700 Following message was addressed to all hands – Happy Birthday NORTH CAROLINA. May we serve you as well during the coming years as you have served us during your first two years of life.”

LT(jg) Ed Gallagher, USN, in the Ship’s Deck Log

1944 – Anchored in Majuro Atoll. Mr. Howard Norton, war correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, reported aboard. In honor of the anniversary the ship’s company dined on mixed olives, sweet pickles, cream of tomato soup, croutons, roast young tom turkey, oyster dressing, baked Virginia [ham], pineapple sauce, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, whipped potatoes, buttered asparagus, French peas, cardinal salad, parker house rolls, bread, butter, apple pie ala mode, coffee, oranges, apples. Cigarettes, cigars.

1945 booklet

1945 – Steaming with Task Group 58.2 operating east of Okinawa

The Ship issued a booklet highlighting bombardments, air attacks and campaigns to date with a list of the commanding and executive officers. “It is our wish that all who have contributed to our cruise be honored by this anniversary publication.”

April 10 1945

Construction and Fitting Part I

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Turbine blade

I joined the Brooklyn Navy Yard in June of 1940 as an outside machinist. My first job was to drill and tap and install stud bolts in the forward stack. From there I worked on the installation of the steering rams. I made the pin gauges for the rudder shafts and installed the bearings for the rudder stock. I also ran a milling machine for the companionways, then the starboard anchor windlass.

After that job there was a call for all Marine Engineers for testing. I was assigned to the boilers and we studied the blueprints for about a month. I made hydrostatic test on all the eight boilers and was promoted to test engineer.

I [won’t] forget the day I got orders to light off number #1 boiler as the man who was a chief engineer got cold feet when he found out the high pressure the boilers would carry. I being young and daring got the job. I was the man who put first life in the NORTH CAROLINA.

Donald Leslie, Machinist, New York Navy Yard
Number 4 Boiler in 1939

“I entered civilian service as an Apprentice Machinist (Inside) on March 6, 1939 at Navy Yard, New York. I was only 19 when I received Badge 31816 and you can imagine this was a momentous occasion for a young guy who was trying to envision his future in the bleak depression years. Our task was to learn how to construct new vessels and repair those in for repair. When you were assigned to a “gang” and to a particular machinist you never knew from day to day what vessel part you were machining. You would look at the routing tag on the casting, forging or metal stock and then get the blueprints for that operation. There were exceptions to this job shop approach. The turbine blade manufacture was so specialized that entire gangs were assigned just to the U.S.S. North Carolina manufacture.

[Later] I was working in the Inspection Department of the Inside Machine Shop X31, Building 128, under the supervision of Leadingman Gus Zannetti. The low pressure turbine had a microscopic crack which I detected using magnaflux which had just been introduced by the company as a non-destructive technique. Gus had no objection so rather than throw it into the scrap heap I kept it in my tool box. It was machined out of solid bar stock into the shape you see.”

Leonard Silvern, Machinist, New York Navy Yard

Launching I

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Launching invitiation

Launching – June 13, 1940

“In the fall of 1939 I was transferred from Industrial Salesman to the Virginia Division of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) to Washington, D.C. to serve as representative of our New York Sales Engineering Division to the federal government agencies, including the military. A most interesting part of the Washington work was the solicitation of launching lubricants at U.S. East Coast ship yards. In view of the European war and the possibility of our involvement, Walter D. Lee, manager of Sales Engineering, foresaw an increase in ship building in this country and requested Standard Oil Development Company to place highest priority on formulation of superior launching lubricants.

An in-depth study of launchings revealed that launching lubricants (base coat and slip coat) should possess certain properties to perform well. The Esso laboratories formulated top quality Esso Basekote, consisting of modified petroleum waxes and Esso Slipkote, a special lime soap grease. I was invited to many launchings and it was a genuine thrill to see the ship slide smoothly down the ways and into the water…. The Navy Department could rely on Basekote and Slipkote to get their ships in the water, and these products were a real credit to the Esso brand.”

Isaac Paul Perkins

Isaac Paul Perkins (1908-2002)

Commendation for Perkins

Preparing for Launching

“Her red and gray hull looming high over the navy yard, the North Carolina is under a 24 hour guard, maintained by yard police and marines, who have been assigned to guard against sabotage.”

New York Times, June 9, 1940

Souvenir pin from the launching ceremony

Souvenir pin from the launching ceremony

“The whole state of North Carolina feels real pride in this colossal battleship. Its very power is fascinating. The ship commands our respect and it will help us to command the respect of the world. It speaks a language even a dictator can understand. It represents another effort of our great nation to provide us an adequate defense.”

North Carolina Governor Clyde R. Hoey

Governor Hoey at the launching