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USS North Carolina seeks millions for updates

Posted April 9, 2015

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— 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.

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  • Gene Parsons Apr 9, 2015
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    The school children of N.C. brought the battleship home by donations, Part of the repairs could be paid for the same way.

  • Eric Murray Apr 9, 2015
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    Let her go. It's way too costly for us in this day and age. Take a video of the whole thing and turn it into a virtual tour.

  • Larry Alston Apr 9, 2015
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    And its well worth the tax dollars to restore it and keep it ship shape! I've made a lot of trips down there just to tour the ship. It's well worth the cost. But, you can easily see the wear and tear of all those tourists.

  • Katie Falls Apr 9, 2015
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    Mark,
    I agree! It is really interesting. Makes me understand a little bit more about my father too. He served in the Navy in WWII. Everyone should see it.

  • Mark Farmer Apr 9, 2015
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    I have about 700 pictures of this ship inside and out, and it is well worth the money to go see it, and walk around the inside of the ship.