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    USS North Carolina: A Legacy Under Threat from Climate Change

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    USS North Carolina arsenal at night
    USS North Carolina arsenal at night

    The USS North Carolina, once a bastion of American naval might during World War II, now stands as a sentinel of history and education, grappling with the 21st-century enemy of climate change.

    Wilmington,NC July 17 USS North Carolina Battleship
    Wilmington,NC July 17 USS North Carolina Battleship

    Commissioned in April 1941 as the lead ship of her class, the North Carolina was a formidable presence in the Pacific Theater, earning her the moniker “The Showboat” for the extensive attention she commanded.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    During her storied service, the North Carolina was equipped with nine 16-inch guns firing massive 2,700-pound shells and an array of anti-aircraft guns.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    Despite a torpedo strike by a Japanese submarine, the ship exhibited remarkable resilience and emerged from the war with 15 battle stars—the most decorated battleship in U.S. history.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    After her decommission in 1947, the North Carolina narrowly escaped the fate of being scrapped. Instead, through the efforts and contributions of North Carolinians, the vessel was transformed into a museum ship, docked in Wilmington since 1962, where she continues to educate and inspire visitors.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    Yet, the warship faces a new battle, not against the firepower of an enemy, but against the ravages of time and a changing environment.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    The rising sea levels and increased frequency of flooding events pose a severe threat to the integrity of the museum and its accessibility to the public.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    A sound-and-light show reenactment of her glory days reminds us of the ship’s historical significance, but behind the scenes, a critical struggle unfolds to ensure her survival.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    Retired Navy Capt. Terry Bragg, who oversees the battleship’s site, has witnessed a stark increase in flooding events, from six in the 1940s to an alarming 70 annually in recent years.

    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship
    closeup details of war ready artillery battleship

    A new initiative, “Living With Water,” aims to adapt to the changing landscape, with a grant being sought to fund this vital project.

    Wilmington, USA - July 20, 2010: World War ll Battleship North Carolina at Wilmington, North Carolina.
    Wilmington, USA – July 20, 2010: World War ll Battleship North Carolina at Wilmington, North Carolina.

    As part of the effort, an $8 million cofferdam has been constructed to protect the ship and facilitate repairs, while plans to create a living shoreline offer a sustainable solution to the encroaching waters.

    USS North Carolina Battleship” by San Diego Shooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Despite these efforts, the future of the USS North Carolina remains precarious. The ship has served as an educational tool for generations, and its loss would not only be a blow to history enthusiasts but also to the local economy, which benefits significantly from the tourism she attracts.

    USS North Carolina Battleship at night” by San Diego Shooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The battle for preservation is ongoing, and as the climate continues to change, the clock ticks for the USS North Carolina and other historic vessels.

    1987 USS North Carolina, Wilmington, NC” by scmikeburton is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The preservation of this floating museum is not only an endeavor of historical importance but also a testament to the enduring spirit of American innovation and resilience.

    1987 USS North Carolina Guns, Wilmington, NC” by scmikeburton is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The USS North Carolina stands as a monument to past victories and as a symbol of the challenges that lie ahead. The war against climate change is fought on many fronts, and for this legendary battleship, the battle is as much about safeguarding history as it is about adapting to a future where water is an ever-present adversary.

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