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Majestic Battleship North Carolina

Visiting the USS North Carolina Memorial battleship is more than just a floating attraction in the greater Wilmington area. This battleship connects people from modern times with the past. This way visitors can experience the sacrifice, commitment and dedication that former (and present) Americans have made for their country.

Battleships have and will always be an integral part of the naval forces for American fleets. This particular class of ship is designed to maintain military control on open waters, political diplomacy and to safeguard sea lanes for supplies. They are also used as a deterrent to other military forces or groups around the world. The USS North Carolina was the flagship for the Carolina class of battleships and it was the dominant and decorated naval vessel for the American fleet during the World War II.

USS Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington. Photo: J. Bradley

The USS North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947. In 1961 the ship was given to the state of North Carolina who held onto the vessel for many years. By 1986 the USS North Carolina was declared a National Historic Landmark. This declaration led to the ship being designated as a memorial. On December 10, 1986 the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial was created and it was opened to the public for tours and observation. Now tourists can visit this battleship when they travel to Wilmington. I’ll tell ya, it’s definitely worth the time to visit this beautiful historic ship!

The USS North Carolina is located on the river across from downtown Wilmington. Visitors and tourists can board the ship and learn about its history, crews and famous battles. There are exhibits, stories and tour guides all available to help make the experience of being on a battleship entertaining and unforgettable.

The USS North Carolina is open all year round, including holidays. The hours of operation vary by the season, so be sure to check their website ( for operating hours and any special restrictions.

The North Carolina is often used for patriotic and military memorial events. During certain times of the year visitors can participate in certain events such as Veterans Day memorials or 4th of July celebrations. They sponsor the annual Battleship Blast Fireworks on the 4th and they also convert the North Carolina into a ghost ship during the Halloween season in October. Fun in every season!

People can access the USS North Carolina Memorial by driving directly to the ship’s location on the dock or by taking a water taxi into the area. The ship is literally a five minute drive from S. Front street in downtown Wilmington. Walking to the USS North Carolina Memorial is not feasible because the ship is docked in a location that is not easily accessible or practical to reach by foot. However, a person can take a bus, cab or even an Uber ride to reach this destination.

Admission to visit the Battleship North Carolina is $14.00 for anyone 12 and older, while kids ages 6 – 11 are $6.00. Children 5 and under are free! Groups with 10 or more people can get a 15% discount. Seniors who are 65 and over get a reduced rate of $10.00. Active and retired military personnel, their spouses and adult children also pay $10.00 with the proper ID. Friends of the Battleship members (an organization that supports the ship) get in for free.

The USS North Carolina is one of the biggest and most important attractions in the Wilmington area but it is not the only sight to see. Visitors can also attend the North Carolina Aquarium, Screen Gems Studios and Airlie Gardens. There is a lot to do in the greater Wilmington area that will keep visitors busy and entertained when they take a vacation to this city.

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Written by Shane Andrews

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