On June 13, 1940, the USS North Carolina (BB-55) was launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, beginning a highly decorated career. Commissioned on April 9, 1941, the ship became the first of ten fast battleships to join the fleet in World War II. The North Carolina and her sister ship, Washington, comprised the North Carolina Class of battleship.
At the time of her commissioning, the North Carolina was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch 38-caliber guns in 10 twin mounts, the North Carolina proved a formidable weapons platform.
During World War II, the North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater, including the Battles of Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, earning 15 battle stars along the way. In all, the USS North Carolina carried out nine shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship, destroyed at least 24 enemy aircraft and assisted in shooting down many more. Although the Japanese claimed six times that the USS North Carolina had been sunk, she survived many close calls and near misses, and by war’s end, had only lost 10 men in action and had 67 wounded.
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