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Save our battleship

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With every passing day, we lose more and more World War II veterans, members of our nation’s greatest generation. Now, we are in danger of losing our state’s monument to them and others who lost their lives in that war.
The USS North Carolina was the first of 10 fast battleships to join the American fleet in World War II and, at the time of her commissioning in April 1941, she was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. She was decommissioned in June 1947, placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet New Jersey for 14 years, and then bound for the scrapyard in 1958. When word of her pending demise reached the Tar Heel State, citizens engaged in a Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign that brought her in October 1961 to Eagle Island, where she was dedicated the following April 1962 “thanks to the efforts and support of many people across the country, including the school children who gave their nickels and dimes to bring the ship to her current berth,” according to the battleship’s website.
Today, the Battleship North Carolina needs our help to ensure the history it represents endures for the future. “While the North Carolina defeated all enemies in battle, 50 years of corrosion has taken its toll. Her once thick steel hull is now wafer thin along the tideline,” according to a recent news release announcing its fundraising Generations Campaign. “In some places, a finger can poke through the hull. With no federal or state funding for operations and more than one-quarter million visitors each year, the North Carolina depends on donors to preserve her as a memorial and education center for our future generations.”
Because of the ship’s proximity to Brunswick County, it should mean a little more to us. We can argue that because of our county’s reputation as not only a tourist but also a retirement destination, we need to take a more personal interest in the preservation of this memorial.
“If the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission does not have a viable plan for the future dry-docking of this vessel, you should either develop a dry-docking plan or prepare and provide the Navy with a plan for the eventual disposal of the ex-North Carolina,” the Department of the Navy, Naval Sea Command, said in July 2009.
The ship’s last major dry-docking and repairs were done in 1944. In February 2014, $500,000 from the Office of State Budget and Management’s Repair and Renovation Contingency Reserve was allocated to repair the ship’s hull, but it is not enough; the repairs and improvements needed cost about $17 million.
Like all veterans, the ship has grown old. And, like all veterans, it deserves to age with dignity, not be discarded.
To contribute to the effort to save our battleship, text the word “battleship” to the number 41444; go to battleshipnc.com and click the donation button; mail a check made out to Friends of the Battleship North Carolina noting “Generations Campaign” on the memo line; or visit the battleship to make a donation on-site.