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Launching The North Carolina

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Battleships are named after states. When a state is so honored, the governor and his family preside over certain ceremonies associated with the ship’s launching. A female is selected to serve as the ship’s sponsor and she is privileged to christen, or name, the ship. With the words I christen thee ... she strikes the ship’s bow with a bottle of champagne and the ship slides down the ways into the water.

Governor Clyde Roark Hoey of Shelby selected his daughter, Miss Isabel Young Hoey, as NORTH CAROLINA’s sponsor. On June 13, 1940, an estimated crowd of 15,000 watched Miss Hoey christen the first new battleship in 16 years. In the photograph, her court is standing behind her holding flowers. Wearing a hat is the Matron of Honor, Virginia Hoey Padgett. To mark the occasion, Miss Hoey was presented with the handsome silver sponsor’s cup on the riser. Mrs. Padgett received the delicate silver compote.

Watching the ceremony was 15 year old Constance K. Rawson and her friends. One of her friends was Katherine Richey whose father was Captain (later Rear Admiral) Thomas B. Richey, manager of the New York Navy Yard from 1934 to 1941. He gave the girls pink tickets designating viewing from the grounds. Katherine, used to being treated well around the Navy Yard, felt she and her friends deserved better seating. She approached the sailor standing guard at the platform seating and said My friends and I are going up here. Woody, I mean the Admiral, says it’s all right. (Woody was Rear Admiral Clark H. Woodward, commandant of the Navy Yard.) Mrs. Rawson says the young sailor was apparently not trained to handle a flanking maneuver by six young girls because they watched from the platform.


1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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Last updated: July 18, 1999.