There were six 35,000-ton battleships
built for the US Navy with North
Carolina and Washington entering
service in 1941. South Dakota,
Indiana, Massachusetts and
Alabama followed in 1942. Although
almost identical to the first two
ships, these four became known as
South Dakota class as they had a slightly
modified design. All six ships were built
to comply with the Washington Treaty
limits of 1922. This was the first new
design of American battleship since the
32,000-ton Colorado class of 1923.
As US forces set out to retake the
Pacific Islands occupied by the Japanese,
all six battleships were used for shore
bombardment and to provide protection for
aircraft carriers and troopships.
Throughout 1942, North Carolina
supported landings at the Solomon
Islands, Guadalcanal, Tulagi and the
Eastern Solomon Islands. During the
latter battle, her crew shot down between
7 and 14 Japanese aircraft. On September
15th 1942, while escorting the US carrier
Saratoga, North Carolina
was hit by one torpedo from a Japanese
submarine killing six of her crew.
Following extensive repairs at Pearl
Harbor, she returned to the war against
Japan in time to supported operations at
the Gilbert Islands in 1943. Throughout
1944, North Carolina provided
cover for US carriers at the Marshal
Islands, Caroline Islands, Mariana's, New
Guinea and the Philippians. In 1945, she
supported carrier attacks at Formosa,
Ryukyus, Honshu and Okinawa.
As US forces closed in on Japan,
North Carolina along with all
other available Allied warships began
bombarding the Japanese mainland. The US
Government believed an invasion of Japan
at that time would have led to a
tremendous loss of life. In an attempt to
end the war without invading Japan,
American bombers dropped the first
uranium atomic bomb on Hiroshima August
6th 1945 and the second more powerful
plutonium bomb on Nagasaki August 9th.
This forced the Japanese to agree to an
unconditional surrender August 14th.
North Carolina went through a period
of inactivity after the war before being
decommissioned June 27th 1947. She was
struck from the navy list June 1st 1960
and handed over to the people of North
Carolina to be moored at Wilmington as a
museum. The other five sister battleships
were also decommissioned in 1947.
Washington was sold for scrap in
1961, South Dakota followed in
1962 and Indiana in 1964.
Massachusetts has been berthed at
Fall River since 1965 to serve as a
memorial for those who died in the war.
Alabama was awarded to the state
of Alabama in 1964 to serve as a museum
berthed at Mobile Bay.
Below, USS North Carolina as a
museum at Wilmington
Below, USS Alabama as a museum
at Mobile Bay