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Battleship North Carolina Floats Once Again

“Well, it’s not something you can rehearse,” said Captain Terry Bragg, executive Director of the Battleship North Carolina just after the first flood gates were opened and water began to flood into the basin holding the 80-year-old, 728-foot long, 36,600-ton ship. It was good to see everything going according to plan, he said as we walked the length of the ship to open the other two floodgates at the bow.

While she may not exactly be completely afloat, the Battleship North Carolina is now back in the water. After nearly a year of work on the ship’s hull plating made possible by a cofferdam that allowed water to be drained from around the ship, the flood gates were opened and the majestic reflection of the battleship is once again visible. More importantly, the ship is ready to continue serving as a memorial to those who fought in World War II for decades to come.

“My part as Executive Director is to ensure the Battleship is here for the next 100 years,” said Captain Bragg, who began as the attraction’s executive director in 2009, just as this project was being conceived.

Replacing 4,000 square feet of steel on a ship this size is no small feat. In fact, Captain Bragg said, it’s a feat not accomplished anywhere else. “No one else in the world is repairing a ship of this size in place,” he said.

The decision to use the cofferdam and repair the ship on site just made sense, Captain Bragg said. The cost of moving the ship to one of the two dry docks that would accommodate a vessel of the battleships size would have been at least $35 million, while this project cost about $13 million, he said. The cofferdam will also stay in place, making future repairs easier and less costly.

The challenges faced on site moving forward, Captain Bragg said, will revolve around living with water. Future projects will work to relieve flooding on the property while preserving the delicate environment, he said.

If you’ve not been aboard this piece of history, or if it’s been a while, why not plan a trip? The ship is open to self guided tours every day with ticket sales from 8 am to 4 pm except Christmas Day, when the ship opens at noon. Tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and active military and $6 for children 6-11. Children 5 and under are free.

Access to the ship is from NC 421 just north of the Cape Fear Bridge.


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