Sea Stories

“All of these guys were selected (to make admiral) long before they ever got command (of the NORTH CAROLINA). They would never have gotten the command in the first place. It was too prestigious a job. But they had to wait their turn and they had to have a certain amount of sea duty and this was it.”

-Commander Kemp Tolley, Navigator


“My commanding officers were, without exception, fine, excellent men. I only got to know them for about six months, because at that time, they were always detached. Every one of them went ahead and had distinguished careers during World War II as flag officers (admirals). All commanded the respect of the crew. I was always very happy to be with any of them.

However, the captain never knew what was going on. I never allowed the captains to know too much. When I got a new captain on that ship, I would go up and talk to him in his cabin, and with a twinkle in my eye, I would say, ‘Now captain, we’ve got a pretty good ship going. If you will kind of let us alone and let us run this ship the way we have been, I will guarantee in six months that I will graduate you number one in your class for flag rank. Any change you want to make, you tell me and I’ll make it; but we don’t need too many.”

-Commander Joe Stryker, Executive Officer


Oscar C. Badger – “He was the enlisted man’s captain, he really was. He made a lot of innovations like soup for the mid watch. He was a destroyer squadron leader when he came aboard the NORTH CAROLINA. He was a tough disciplinarian but he was really good. We really enjoyed him. Sorry to see him leave when we were going to the Pacific. We thought he was going with us but he left in Norfolk.”

-Harold Smith, Firecontrolman 1/c


“We had a succession of very capable commanding officers and executive officers. I believe we were fortunate is nothing only having but not having had too long as a captain, Admiral Badger. He was a very good captain. I felt his failure was not being properly appreciative of his subordinates. While captain of our ship he spent a great deal of time studying the strategy and tactics of the war which I’m sure were a great benefit to our purposes after he achieved flag rank. That was in the early part of the war when the captain was in pretty close contact with the officers and the crew. But then the captains that followed him were rather isolated.”

-Commander John Kirkpatrick


“I noted with satisfaction and pride the splendid spirit shown by all hands in accomplishing the very hard work which was necessary to get the ship ready for sea on time. Well done! I am also pleased with the progress made in our training during the first two days at sea, especially the feat of the A.A. battery in shooting down both drones with so little opportunity for preparation. However, we have many new officers and men on board and much intensive drill at battle stations will be necessary in order to insure our readiness for action at an early date. The Japanese are good fighters. We must be better. Let’s go!”

Address to the crew by G.H. Fort, Captain, USN, and commanding officer of BB55 from June to December 1942. Fort was presented the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Solomon Islands, August 24, 1942.

Captain Fahrion with Medicine Ball

Captain Fahrion with Medicine Ball

“Although the ship was a poor environment for sports, Captain “Spike” Fahrion, who was a big, muscular bruiser of a man, was determined to do what he could to stay in shape. Around mid-afternoon on days when there was not much risk of surprise attack, the captain would send his marine orderly down into officers’ country to round up four or five vigorous young men to serve as the old man’s medicine ball playmates. Often as not, most of us were exhausted from long hours on watch or at our battle stations so we were not exactly thrilled with the prospect. But, when the captain summoned, you came. Within minutes, attired in shorts, t-shirts and canvas shoes, we joined him on the open deck, starboard side of his in-port cabin, on the 01 level.

Our routine was to form a circle of eight or ten feet in diameter, and for half an hour or so we would simply take turns heaving the medicine ball to each other…. That huge, leather bound globe must have weighed 25 or 30 pounds while the captain probably weighed around 200. With his strength, aided by an occasional loud grunt, he could toss that thing around almost as easily as the rest of us could handle a basketball. I then weighed no more than 135, and I’ll never forget the first time he sent the ball thudding into my gut. I hadn’t braced myself for the impact and it knocked me flat on the deck, much to the amusement of everyone else. After that, I never thought it was much fun.”

-Captain Ben Blee, USN (Ret)


Their time in command of NORTH CAROLINA

Olaf M.Hustvedt
April 9, 1941 – October 23, 1941

Oscar C. Badger
October 23, 1941 – June 1, 1942

George H. Fort
June 1, 1942 – December 5, 1942

Wilder D. Baker
December 5, 1942 – May 27, 1943

Frank P. Thomas
May 27, 1943 – October 6, 1944

Frank G.Fahrion
October 6, 1944 – January 26, 1945

Oswald S. Colclough
January 26, 1945 – June 15, 1945

Byron H. Hanlon
June 15, 1945 – February 1, 1946

Timothy J. O’Brien
February 1, 1946 – June 27, 1947