WHO OWNS THE BATTLESHIP?
The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA (BB55) became permanently berthed in Wilmington in 1961. The State of North Carolina and the Navy have a contractual arrangement regarding the Battleship. The Navy retains proprietary interest in the ship in perpetuity, thus establishing the Battleship as a U.S. Navy heritage asset. The contract with the Navy requires the State of North Carolina to maintain the Battleship in good condition for visitors. The U.S. Navy conducts a thorough annual inspection for compliance.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING THE BATTLESHIP?
The governor appoints an 18-member commission to govern the Battleship. The commission sets policy, approves the annual budget, and determines short and long range goals. The Friends of the Battleship serves as the official 501(c)3 fundraising arm of the ship. Make tax-deductible gifts payable to the Friends of the Battleship. The NC Department of Cultural Resources provides input to the Battleship’s operations and programs. The Department oversees cultural and historic sites statewide representing significant educational and tourism resources.
WHO BROUGHT THE BATTLESHIP TO WILMINGTON?
The “Save our Ship” campaign co-chaired by Governor Terry Sanford, former Governor Luther Hodges, James S. Craig, and Hugh Morton worked with many others to bring the Battleship here through the Save Our Ship Campaign. The campaign was highlighted by widespread participation of school children across North Carolina contributing dimes and nickels.
WHO COMMANDS THE BATTLESHIP?
Captain Terry Bragg, USN (Ret) serves as executive director. Captain Bragg enjoyed a 30-year career that included commanding a guided missile frigate and later a destroyer squadron in the Pacific Fleet. He is a native of nearby Jacksonville, NC.
HOW IS THE BATTLESHIP SUPPORTED ANNUALLY?
The state legislature established the Battleship as a self-supporting enterprise. Therefore, the Battleship receives no state or federal operating support. The Battleship’s $3 million annual operating budget derives from ticket and gift shop sales, space rentals, events, charitable donations, and corporate sponsors. Over one-quarter million visitors explore the Battleship or visit Battleship Park each year.
WHAT PAST CAPITAL PROJECTS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED AND HOW ARE THEY FUNDED?
The Battleship relies on a public-private partnership of generous individual, corporate, foundation, and community donors to fund capital repairs or improvements. The successful Operation Shipshape completed in 2000 provides an important example of this partnership. Chaired by BB&T CEO Kelly King, Operation Shipshape raised critically needed funds to make repairs to the Battleship’s decking and bow. Starboard bow repairs were completed in November 2011.
WHAT CAPITAL NEEDS DOES THE BATTLESHIP HAVE TODAY?
The Battleship’s hull has critical structural issues that must be addressed immediately. Since coming to her berth in 1961, more than 50 years of wind and water at the tide line have left the hull paper-thin in places. Her last major dry docking and repair work was done in 1953. She is sitting in 30 feet of river silt, but this silt has actually helped to preserve the bottom better than at the wind-water line.
The establishment of an Education Department will provide the critical leadership needed to enable the Battleship to reach her fullest potential as a creative teach tool. Qualified museum educators will develop exciting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs meeting state and national curriculum requirements in addition to continuing the ship’s role in teaching the lessons of history and inspiring civic duty to future generations of North Carolinians.
HOW WILL REPAIRS BE MADE? WHAT’S A COFFERDAM?
cof•fer•dam: A watertight enclosure that is pumped dry to expose the bottom of a body of water so that ship or marine construction and repair may be undertaken.
A cofferdam provides a wide wall around the ship. Water will be pumped out of the enclosed area, creating a dry workspace for hull repairs.
The proposed towing to Norfolk for repair proved risky and costly. Repair of the ship on site is an incredible win-win. The ship continues to generate revenue, serve in her memorial and educational roles, and continue as a strong regional economic and tourism generator.
WILL CHARLIE THE ALLIGATOR AND THE WILDLIFE ON EAGLES ISLAND BE AFFECTED?
Most of our critters live in the marsh area outside the planned cofferdam area. The ship is committed to preserving and protecting wildlife.
WHO IS PAYING FOR THESE URGENT REPAIRS? – THE GENERATIONS CAMPAIGN
The Battleship will rely again on a public-private partnership to fund its hull repairs and educational improvements, anticipated to be $17 million total. We will seek the support of individuals, corporations, foundations, and organizations statewide and nationally to fund this need.
WHAT’S THE TIMELINE OF THE GENERATIONS CAMPAIGN?
A leadership gift phase was launched in 2012 seeking support of statewide leaders and a substantial portion of needed contributions. A public gift phase followed inspiring broad support of all generations much like the famous call to Save Our Ship inspired a generation to bring our proud namesake home.
1.) Mail a check to:
The Friends of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA
P.O. Box 480
Wilmington, NC 28402
(Please note “Generations Campaign” on the memo line)
2.) Visit the Battleship for an onsite donation. If you have further questions on pledges or other ways to give, contact Terry DeMeo, development director at the Battleship, at (910) 399-9116 or Terry.DeMeo@ncdcr.gov.