Living like a local: A visit to Battleship NC

Jan 30, 2024 • 3 min. read | By Karen Bright

Like a lot of cities, Wilmington has beautiful museums and monuments that oftentimes are taken for granted by locals. One museum or monument that is of national significance is the Battleship North Carolina.


The USS North Carolina was officially retired to her post as a monument in the 1960s. Prior to that, she had been in New Jersey and was scheduled to be demolished. The residents of North Carolina saw to it that she be preserved. Residents all over the state raised funds and wrote letters rallying for her preservation. And it worked. When the USS North Carolina was brought to Wilmington, she became a museum for all to enjoy. 


When I visited the Battleship, I was amazed at the size of it. It was not only ginormous but also small and compact. This ship is nine stories high and over 700 feet long. 


It is vast and intimidating. While standing on her deck it is breathtaking, within the living quarters, it is separated into many confined spaces to accommodate the crew. The stairwells (ladders) to go floor to floor are narrow and steep. The bunks are small and functional. This is not a luxury cruise ship but an armored machine valiantly protecting the country during World War II and allies as she glided fiercely through the oceans.  I obviously was not expecting luxury, but it was still eye opening. 


When you tour, expect to spend at least two hours to take in all the gunneries, old-fashioned computers, engine rooms and crew quarters. There is a ton to see and a lot to learn. The battleship has many different programs and specials available. A few examples are The Hidden Battleship. This is a special tour that will take you to all of the closed-off areas. Your tour will take you through the history and inner workings of the shop. You even get to go to the top. 


Another option is Battleship Alive! Where you can see reenactments of the battleship and crew doing their daily duties. This is limited to certain dates. There are several different events in which to participate. 


To find this and other events or guided tour options visit


Admission to the attraction ranges from free to $12 depending on age, if you are military or in a group. When visiting the Battleship North Carolina, there is plenty of parking for vehicles such as personal cars, RVs and buses. Parking is free. There is a beautiful park where you can enjoy a picnic or take a walk around. The hours of operation are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The only exception is Christmas when it opens at noon.  


The battleship deserves more attention than I have given her. I encourage you to visit and read a more detailed account of her history. There are also stories from the sailors who were on the ship during her active duty. 


The Battleship North Carolina is a proud memorial to our Naval history and contribution to our country. There is a lot to learn and see and this visit will be well worth your time!