We were in the New York shipyard, getting the ship ready to go to war. The people in the shipyard had the same feeling that I have and that I still have about the wonderful ship the NORTH CAROLINA. Every man on that crew in Brooklyn worked just as hard as they could to make it a going concern; and it had to be because it was known that the Japanese were building up their fleet and that we were not quite as superior to the fleet of the Japanese at that time. It was only until we got some real power in our naval shipyard and…the NORTH CAROLINA was in the vanguard of this fight.

My wife and I were invited to the commissioning ceremonies in New York City. It was a really electric and satisfying result. The ovation that ended the celebration in New York when the ship was commissioned was a tribute to a bunch of hard working people that our shipyards were. Our sailors and men were ready to go out and do what ever had to be done to win this war. And they did it. They really did it.”

-Commander Alfred Ward, USN

Commander Alfred Ward, USN

Commissioning Ceremonies excerpt:

At 1125 the prospective executive officer called all hands to attention and made final preparations for placing the ship in commission. The following officials and guests were present:

Honorable Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy
Honorable J.M. Broughton, Governor of North Carolina
Admiral H.R. Stark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations
Rear Admiral Aldolphus Andrews, USN, Commandant, Third Naval District
Captain HV McKittrick, USN, Acting Commandant, New York Navy Yard
Admiral EJ King, USN, Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet
Rear Admiral CA Dunn, USN, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Electric Boat Company, Manager of the New York Navy Yard during the design and early building of the USS NORTH CAROLINA
Lieutenant General HA Drum, USA, Commander, First Army
Honorable FH LaGuardia, Mayor of New York City
Captain AFE Palliser, RN, Commanding HMS MALAYA
Captain James Pine, USCG, Superintendent US Coast Guard Academy
Captain JJ Broshek, USN, Manager Navy Yard, New York
Captain TB Richey, USN, Production Officer, New York Navy Yard
The commanding officers of all U.S. naval vessels present.
118 representatives of the press, radio, and motion picture news reel organizations
985 additional officer and civilian guests

Captain Olaf Hustvedt, USN

Prospective Commanding Officer (Capt. Hustvedt):
Commander Shepard, place the ship in commission.
Aye, aye, sir. Hoist the commission pennant.
Captain Hustvedt, the ship has been placed in commission.
(Hustvedt) Captain McKittrick, I accept command of the USS North Carolina.
Break the flag of the Secretary of the Navy.
Admiral Stark, I report that the United States Ship North Carolina has been placed in commission and is subject to your orders.
Very well, carry on.
Commander Shepard, set the watch.

A Symbol of Progress

IT IS WITH EXTREME REGRET THAT I FIND MYSELF UNABLE TO BE PRESENT AT THE EXERCISES ATTENDING THE COMMISSIONING OF THE BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA. IT HAS BEEN EIGHTEEN LONG YEARS SINCE THE LAST GREAT SHIP OF THE LINE, THE U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA, JOINED THE UNITED STATES FLEET. TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THIS NEW AND GREAT MAN-O’-WAR I EXTEND CORDIAL GREETINGS AND ALL GOOD WISHES FOR A HAPPY CRUISE, A HAPPY SHIP. THROUGHOUT HER SERVICE MAY THE NORTH CAROLINA BE A SYMBOL OF PROGRESS THROUGH STRENGTH, AND A TANGIBLE EVIDENCE OF AMERICAN READINESS FOR ITS OWN DEFENSE. I KNOW SHE WILL HELP TO PROTECT THIS COUNTRY FAITHFULLY IN TRADITIONAL NAVY FASHION.

-FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

Telegram sent by President Roosevelt and read by the Commandant, Third Naval District, on the day of NORTH CAROLINA’s commissioning, 9 April 1941.

New Battleship – A Symbol of Might

On April 9, 1941, the “world’s fightingest ship” was commissioned at 11:30 a.m., in the New York Navy Yard. The event received tremendous media attention.

“The 35,000-ton battleship NORTH CAROLINA, solid, gleaming symbol of America’s awakening from a sleep naval holiday of 18 years…. 29 minutes of ceremony in dazzling sunshine formally placed in service the $70,000,000 battleship it had taken nearly four years to build.” The commissioning was four months ahead of schedule.

“As bugles blared and white-capped officers and bluejackets saluted, a pennant was run slowly up the flagstaff to show that the ship was in commission. Millions listened over the radio as the mightiest battleship afloat was put into service.”

-The Young Catholic Messenger, April 25, 1941

 

“May the NORTH CAROLINA be a symbol of progress through strength,” wrote President Roosevelt.

Following the ceremony a buffet luncheon in the Wardroom included “NORTH CAROLINA APPLE PIE.”

-April 10, 1941

“Dear Husty: It was with great pride that I sat down to my bacon and eggs this A.M. after seeing your beaming countenance griming at me from the pages of the L.A. Times. There you were aboard the new battle wagon North Carolina. I pray that your ship will never be called upon to hurl her salvos against an enemy. But, if destiny rules otherwise, I know she will more than give an excellent account of herself in upholding the glorious traditions of our Country and the Navy for which all of us who are real Americans are prepared to battle and, if needs be, die for.”

-Edward Sedgwick, MGM Pictures
Letter to Captain Olaf Hustvedt
Commanding officer USS NORTH CAROLINA

“The commissioning was a great day of excitement. All the dignitaries around and high ranking admirals. Every sailor had to be on his toes and everything was ship shape the best way it could be on board. We were all dressed in blues for photos and the commissioning. It was a great day.”

-Paul Charles Wenck, Seaman 1/c

The Ship’s Birthday over the Years

1942 – Casco Bay, Maine

 

“The good ship U.S.S. North Carolina celebrated her first birthday anniversary in a most enjoyable manner with a big party. The day dawned bright and fair, with sufficient snap in the air to add zest to the Field Day events. The afternoon jamboree completed the day’s festivities and as the curtain fell the entire ship’s company expressed in words or actions their thanks to all. Thus was another link forged our chain of important events. When our baptismal fire is upon us, we feel certain that by such displayed unity of action our anchor of faith in our purpose will find all tried and true.”

Tarheel, April 11, 1942

1943 – Pearl Harbor

“0700 Following message was addressed to all hands – Happy Birthday NORTH CAROLINA. May we serve you as well during the coming years as you have served us during your first two years of life.”

-LT(jg) Ed Gallagher, USN
in the Ship’s Deck Log

1944 – Anchored in Majuro Atoll. Mr. Howard Norton, war correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, reported aboard. In honor of the anniversary the ship’s company dined on mixed olives, sweet pickles, cream of tomato soup, croutons, roast young tom turkey, oyster dressing, baked Virginia [ham], pineapple sauce, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, whipped potatoes, buttered asparagus, French peas, cardinal salad, parker house rolls, bread, butter, apple pie ala mode, coffee, oranges, apples. Cigarettes, cigars.

1945 – Steaming with Task Group 58.2 operating east of Okinawa

The Ship issued a booklet highlighting bombardments, air attacks and campaigns to date with a list of the commanding and executive officers. “It is our wish that all who have contributed to our cruise be honored by this anniversary publication.”