9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Come celebrate the Battleship’s 75th anniversary on Saturday April 9, 2016, as active duty personnel from Camp LeJeune bring the ship to life from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Working with the Battleship’s Living History Crew and the US Marine Corps Historical Company, Sailors from the 2d Marine Division and Marines from the 2d Tank Battalion will interpret the Battleship for visitors. According to LCDR Jason M. Constantine, Battalion Chaplain and one of the event organizers, “This is a unique event in which Marines and Sailors from the 2d Marine Division are volunteering their own time to share their maritime services’ history and heritage with the fine people of Wilmington.” Award winning East Burke High School Jazz Ensemble will also perform patriotic music throughout the day in commemoration of the event.

Join the North Carolina Azalea Festival Official Party Entourage, which includes Queen Azalea Anna Kooiman, the Queen’s Court, and Official Invited Guests at 1:00 pm as they wish the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA a happy birthday by cutting the official Showboat cake on board. “We are proud to be a part of this very important celebration honoring the history of the Battleship North Carolina,” says 69th Azalea Festival President Robby Collins. “The Battleship and the Festival have worked closely to support each other for many years, and we are excited to be such a big part of this celebration.”

Come be apart of the fun and express your gratitude to these fine service personnel. The program is FREE with admission.

On April 9, 1941, in New York Navy Yard, the U. S. Navy commissioned United States Ship NORTH CAROLINA officially into the U. S. fleet. NORTH CAROLINA was the first American battleship to be commissioned since December 1923. With war already waging in Europe and the Pacific, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox proclaimed during the commissioning ceremony, “The NORTH CAROLINA is one of a new line of ships that will give the United States unchallenged supremacy on the seas.” Orders were read, the colors (U.S. flag) and commission pennant were raised, the watch set and the battleship was placed in commission. Admiral Alfred Ward, then Commander Ward, NORTH CAROLINA’s Gunnery Officer, recalled years later: “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 had and that I still have about the wonderful ship NORTH CAROLINA. Every man of that crew in Brooklyn worked just as hard as he could to make it a going concern. The commissioning ceremony in New York City was a really electric and satisfying event. The ovation that ended the celebration was a tribute to a bunch of hard-working people. Our sailors were ready to go out to do whatever had to be done to win that war. And they did it. They really did it.”

At the time of her commissioning on 9 April 1941, she was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, NORTH CAROLINA proved a formidable weapons platform. Her wartime complement consisted of 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including about 100 Marines. During World War II, NORTH CAROLINA participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations and earned 15 battle stars.