Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our visit to the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington, NC

Wilmington, North Carolina is a quiet town in eastern North Carolina. It had a family atmosphere. We were drawn to it because of the beach and history attractions. My husband set his sights on going there the moment that he heard about the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington.

Battleship propeller USS North Carolina
Going on a cool day is important. Another visitor, who identified himself as a veteran, said that summer on a battleship can be hot. He was a friendly, chatty fellow who seemed to be an expert. Touring the USS North Carolina helped me appreciate the lives that the sailors lived. I still might not hesitate to visit during the summer, if that's when we could go.

Hours and prices can change, so be sure to check the website before arriving. It is open for tours daily and that includes holidays. http://www.battleshipnc.com/ Plan on eating before you go or use the picnic area. We didn't find anything nearby but the ship did have vending machines.

Let me also give a caution to people who have disabilities.

The U.S.S. North Carolina is a battleship, and cannot be made ADA compliant. If you have mobility issues, then pretty much everything except the upper deck is inaccessible. I didn't have much in the way of mobility issues then and was able to complete most of the self-guided tour.

Much of my time was spent most on the observation deck but I didn't feel cheated. The guns, Vought Kingfisher float plane, cannons and the indoor displays of photos and historic items were interesting. Chairs and a nice breeze made it a good place to wait for the rest of my family.

Inside the USS North Carolina are steep steps and a few fairly tight spaces. Good shoes are a must for secure footing. The battleship still smells of diesel in the lower parts of the ship. I wasn't expecting this and cannot imagine how overpowering the smell must have been for the men who lived and worked aboard the battleship.

If you are in reasonably good shape, and can climb, visiting the USS North Carolina Battleship is an amazing experience. Inside, you'll see portions of 9 decks and get a feel for every aspect of the lives of the people who served. There is the laundry, dark room, post office, newspaper, store, mess halls, sick bay, brig, and more.

At the end of the tour is the Wardroom. There you'll see a display of silver pieces. Near there is the Roll of Honor. This names the 10,000 North Carolinians who died in service during World War II.

If you are in Wilmington and are looking for something for your family to do give it a try. They recommend allowing at least two hours to visit the USS North Carolina. It took us three hours and was worth every minute and every penny.

Note: This article first appeared on Epinions in 2007.