Current North Carolina:
Navy Day 10/27/37 ~ 6/27/47
Authorized by an act of Congress on June 3, 1936, the keel of BB-55
was laid down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Navy Day, October 27, 1937. This was the first
time the United States had started construction of a battleship in 16 years. A few new
cruisers and destroyers had been built, but in general, the fleet was old if not obsolete
at the time.
Ships are not built in a day. As they say, when you need ships it's
too late to build them. Four years of design work, and three years and eight months went
into her construction.
While building the North Carolina, war broke out in Europe, and only
four days before her launch Hitler's divisions occupied Paris. In the Far East, Japan had
invaded China, and was threatening further aggressive moves in Southeast Asia.
On June 13, 1940, Governor Clyde R. Hoey of North Carolina's
daughter, Isabel, to the strains of "Anchors Aweigh", smashed the traditional
bottle of champagne against the bow and launched the ship. Then, on April 9, 1941, after
completing her fitting-out, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox commissioned the ship. After
all work was done, the ship cost the taxpayers $76,885,750. Today, the sum would be vastly
After commissioning, the North Carolina had an unusually extensive
shakedown, lasting several months. During this long "shakedown" period, the
North Carolina returned often to her building yard for adjustments and modifications.
During this time, New Yorkers, and in particular radio commentator Walter Minchell often
witnessed the great new "battlewagon" entering and departing the harbor, and
began to call her "The Showboat", after the colorful river steamer in a popular
Broadway musical. The name has stuck ever since.