Battleship North Carolina: 50 Years in Wilmington

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Submitted: Mon, 10/03/2011 - 3:59am
Updated: Mon, 10/03/2011 - 2:02pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Fifty years ago Sunday, the Battleship North Carolina finished its long journey from New Jersey to Wilmington. It took great vision, lots of cash and some careful navigation to get "The Showboat" into the slip where she lives now.

We celebrate the Battleship’s history as a protector of democracy during World War II and then as one of the state’s greatest tourist attractions in the WWAY NewsChannel 3 special Battleship North Carolina: 50 Years in Wilmington (click to watch the entire show).

Special thanks to the Battleship North Carolina and "Battleship North Carolina: The Showboat Legacy" by Common Sense Films.

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30 Comments on "Battleship North Carolina: 50 Years in Wilmington"

Tom Craig
2015 years 8 months ago

Jimmy Craig was badly injured in the crash of a military C-123 aircraft carrying the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team during an air show at the Wilmington Airport on Sunday, Sept. 24, 1961. He was flown to the Burn Center at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he died shortly after. He never got to see The Battleship North Carolina in her new home.

Getting the ship here was a passion of his, and he, Hugh Morton and many others spent countless hours and a great deal of effort in seeing that dream come true.

Peyton Garrett
2015 years 8 months ago

….And always remember to one of the Men who spearheaded the effort, Jimmy Craig. Mr. Craig, died in a plane crash at an airshow here in Wilmington I believe just a couple of years later.

2015 years 8 months ago


2015 years 8 months ago

The Ark was damaged as the battleship brushed her as it came in and began to turn. My great uncle, Bertram Burriss was the river pilot in charge, and he had been assured that The Ark would be moved in time. It was not moved. Please read the account of the incident from the point of view of the river pilot in the following newspaper account:,2407782

Uncle Bert went to his death bed being frustrated about the way this incident was portrayed in the media. He took great pride in his ability and his past performance as a river pilot. There was no mistake made, except on the part of The Ark. Because of his skills, he was able to make a very difficult situation work out. This could have been catastrophic in so many ways, but Uncle Bert was able to think and act quickly enough to avert disaster.

2015 years 8 months ago

I have always heard a story that there was a restaurant on a boat somewhere along water street, and when the battleship turned to slide into it’s berth it slammed into the restaurant and destroyed it. True or False? Just curious :)

Scott Pickey
2015 years 8 months ago


According to a documentary about the battleship and its trip to Wilmington, the ship did brush up against “The Ark” and damaged it when it made the turn, but the restaurant wasn’t “destroyed” so to speak.


Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

Jerry H.
2015 years 8 months ago

Mostly true. The restaurant was called the “Fergus Ark” and it was struck by the battelship as they turned it into postion to put her in her berth. But if memory serves, the “Ark” as it was called by locals then, was repaired and remained open for several more years.

2015 years 8 months ago

A few more pieces to add to the puzzle:

Seems “The Ark” was “The Fergus Ark”. The restaurant didn’t get destroyed but it did get damaged…and the owner sued the Battleship Commission for $25k. I remember one of this gentleman’s “landlocked” restaurants on Carolina Beach Road in the Sunset Park area. It’s now a used car lot.

2015 years 8 months ago

I wasn’t sure what “Battleship” meant. Thanks for clearing that up and thanks for the good idea of putting a gallows back in town square. Then if we would use it for all these worthless thugs running around, crime rates would drop.

You are full of good ideas and something kind of stinky at the same time.

2015 years 8 months ago

It’s unfortunate that we were placed in a position to need to honor a warship. But this ship, and others, are well deserving of the place of honor that hold for them. When this country was invaded by another, this ship…and many others…were manned by Americans who helped stop the enemy that was intent on crippling our country. That isn’t deserving of a place of honor?

Here’s a suggestion from a simpleton; go ask a veteran what they think of your suggestion to “scrap this monster”. Even though you’re entitled to an opinion, I’d value their opinion far more than yours.

Grand Ole Party
2015 years 8 months ago

How about we get that electric chair and you sit down in it? I would be more than happy to pull the switch on your dumb a@@!!!

Tom Craig
2015 years 8 months ago

Before I called the people who honor that great ship and her heroic crew, morons and simpletons, I think I would pause and contemplate what today might be like for all of us if that ship and it’s crew, and all the other ships and crews had not been there to protect us from the Japanese war machine. You, and all the rest of us could be speaking Japanese today.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I would guess that you were not even alive during that time, and thus have no idea what things were like.

I salute all of the men and women who served in that awful war, and I feel nothing but gratitude for their commitment and their sacrifice.

Mr. Simpleton
2015 years 8 months ago

From Mr. Simpleton to Mr. Moron yes she was built as a killing machine and yes she should be honored but Mr Moron you should thank this killing machine for giving you the freedom to post the stupid comment you posted about a piece of American history.. mANY MEN LOST THERE LIVES SEVERING ABOARD THIS BEAUTY..Enough said you shouls your stupidity


2015 years 8 months ago

let’s put a gallows in every county seat. Use Wilmington for a trial run.

Hire a hangman.

Then every month, host public hangings of those convicted of first degree murder in the city and New Hanover County.

That might do wonders to stem the shootings in Creekwood and the other projects.

If that works, then place a stocks adjacent to it. Use that to display parents who can not control or monitor their children who become hard core class disrupters in school. Have a basket of rotten eggs and vegetables available to throw at the person on display. Maybe that will cause certain parents to be more responsible and use more stringent measures to control their juevenile delinquents who think they have a street personna.

2015 years 8 months ago

Comments like yours are usually made by people who have never faced death. You sit and isolated from the reality that those weapons of death are the only things( when manned by true peace loving Americas) That have perserved of way of life and the freedoms
that people like you get to enjoy, without the slightest idea of the
sacrifices and the pains of thaty it took,. perhaps if you were put into a situtation where you had to fight for your life, you might understand.
Your installation of a gallows might serve that purpose.. I will
volunteer to pull the lever.

tom march
2015 years 8 months ago

Hey Ken, We know that the battleship did what it was designed to do during WW2 and undoubtedly did a great job defeating evil..but hey..the war is over. But when you say it’s meant to honor the war dead when this ship is the cause of the ‘war dead’’s insane. Other States have scrapped their battleships for this reason. You’ll notice that the graves of the ‘war dead’ at Arlington National Cemetary have crosses on their graves, not weapons of war, to honor them. I accept your apology…ain’t america great!!

tom march
2015 years 8 months ago

Hey, simpletons, that ship wasn’t meant to hunt ducks. It was designed and built to kill as many people as efficiently as possible. And you pinheads give this killing machine a place of “honor”?? How about putting a gallows or electric chair in the town square to idolize?? Scrap this monster and give the money to a VA hospital.

GuestBernice Couch
2015 years 8 months ago

I have Hugh Morton’s lithograph in Ektachrome the actual photograph
taken by Hugh Morton. The picture is same as above only larger 18×20
You can see the sailors on board and people lining the shore welcoming them home. Anyone interested email me at

Wade Griffis
2015 years 8 months ago

I believe part of the missing story is Hugh Morton’s (owner of Grandfather Mountain) contrubition. Old Hugh is dead now, but his story lives on.

2015 years 8 months ago

This is very true. I was 11 years old and remember begging my mom and dad for pennies, nickels, and dimes (and sometimes donated part of my lunch money) to save the Battleship.

What a sense of pride we felt when all of us saw the ship floating down the Cape Fear to her home destination! We saved her….and we felt like we could accomplish anything after that. I still feel a sense of pride every time I ride by her.

2015 years 8 months ago

My mother told me that she and other kids gave Pennies, Dimes, nickels and lunch money to schools to save the Battleship. She told me this at my first visit to the Battleship at age 7. I’m 43 old now. I also told my daughter the same story at her first visit to the ship. The people of NC brought her home saving her from death.

R. K.
2015 years 8 months ago

It’s not about the ship.

It’s about the people who served on board, the job they did, they had to do.

It’s about keeping it real.

If we don’t tell their story, and the story of this ship – the impact, both positive and negative, may be lost on future generations. You know what they say about history, forget it and you’re bound to repeat it.

In a growing “virtual” world – this ship is a stark, and tangible, reminder of what nations, and man kind, will do to each other.

The people who manned the guns didn’t want to kill. They wanted to protect their country, stay afloat, and get themselves and their shipmates home alive.

2015 years 8 months ago

His name is Kevin, not Ken. Go Phils!!

J. Hardee
2015 years 8 months ago

I too gave a dime every day at Sunset Park Junior High School to help bring the battleship home to Wilmington. On the school bus going home one afternoon along the River Road I looked out as she made her way up the Cape Fear River. That’s something I’ll never forget.

2015 years 8 months ago

As one of the school contributors, giving a dime then was a GREAT investment for the future. Hope she stays around for 50 more years. Glad us school kids in the 60’s had the opportunity to save the Showboat.

2015 years 8 months ago

I was there when the plane went down. I was only five years old but will never forget . it was a awesome site when it took off then it looked as if it just stopped in mid-air and just hung there for a while. then after it came down it was like every man on the ground went into a rescue mode. my Dad ran to help and I was just scared to death. a picture in my mind that I will never forget.

2015 years 8 months ago

To those condemning honoring the Battleship because it was a war ship and people were killed that were on it or on opposing sides of the gun….look into the faces of those men who served on her, who talk about her with tears in their eyes, who come to her every year just to experience the memories and pay respect. These men served their country, and she protected them and was instrumental in their mission, in OUR mission as a country. She is more than a killing machine. She is memory. She is hope. She is honor.

2015 years 8 months ago

Very nice tribute to OUR ship tonight on the news! Especially the last montage, it brought tears to my eyes. Tears of pride, I suppose. I am a Wilmington native, and was too young to remember being a part of the campaign to bring her here, but I pass that grand girl every day on the way to and from work, and I look on her as a symbol of honor.
Thanks again WWAY! So many posters making comments of WWAY being tabloidal, but I think you guys are superb!
You nailed this one!

2015 years 8 months ago

History on that for you. The Ark was park of an old concrete war ship build right here in Wilmington. At the old Shipyard for the first world war. These concrete ships were thought not to float and many citizens showed up along the opposite shore to see the first one placed in the river. According to the story they were all surprised to see it float and even more surprised when a wake came and got them wet. From stories Ive heard after the battleship damaged The Ark, the owners could not afford the repair bill and sold it. It is apparently somewhere in Florida. Not sure what parts are true or not, but that is the story I have always heard.

9 at the time
2015 years 8 months ago

Does anyone remember the purple heart they had on the right hand side of the entrance for a year or two after that?
It was a cool place to get good food.