USS North Carolina seeks millions for updates
Posted April 9, 2015
Wilmington, N.C. — One of North Carolina's top tourist attractions needs an update.
The USS North Carolina draws tens of thousands of people to its Wilmington waterfront museum each year. But 50 years of sitting in the silty water of the Cape Fear River have taken their toll on the battleship.
"The fact that we have water coming through tells us we've got some areas we need to address immediately," said Chris Vargo, assistant director of Battleship North Carolina.
The ship is "weeping." That's how the crew describes the water which seeps through the corroded hull.
What was once steel a half-inch thick is now, in places, as thin as paper.
"We need to do something now," Vargo said. "The hull is not getting any thicker."
Rust and chipping paint are visible in many places, especially around the hull where water rises and falls with the tide.
The plan is to build a cofferdam, a corrugated steel enclosure around the ship, then drain the water out and replace the corroded steel. All told, repairs and a planned scenic riverwalk approach to the ship would cost an estimated $17 million.
Friends of the Battleship, the nonprofit fundraising arm of the ship, is soliciting tax-deductible donations from the public.
In addition to donations through the battleship website, people can text "Battleship" to 41444, mail a check to Friends of the Battleship North Carolina or donate during a visit to the battleship.
Terry Bragg, director of the Battleship North Carolina historic site, said any investment honors those who served on board.
"That is very important to us to keep focused in our minds and in our hearts," he said.
Capitol Broadcasting, WRAL's parent company, is a supporter of the Battleship North Carolina restoration project. So far, about $7 million has been raised, and work is expected to begin by December.