Prep work for Battleship North Carolina renovations has begun

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A floating crane on the port side of the Battleship North Carolina has been measuring water depth ahead of construction. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
A floating crane on the port side of the Battleship North Carolina has been measuring water depth ahead of construction. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

WILMINGTON – After years of fundraising, preliminary work finally started on renovations to the Battleship North Carolina this week.

According to Meaghan Holmes, the attraction’s promotions director, cranes that have been stationed on the property for the last few weeks began moving on Monday. Workers are running test piles, which determine how far deep underwater they have to go before they hit limestone, on both sides of the ship.

“That will help us determine how much steel we need to order,” Holmes said. “Once that’s done and we get the steel in, we can start building the cofferdam.”

The cofferdam will allow for work to be done that typically requires dry docking. The World War II-era ship’s steel hull is in need of repairs, and according to the ship’s website, is “paper-thin” in some places. The last major dry dock and repair work to the battleship was completed years before it arrived in Wilmington nearly 55 years ago in October 1961.

The project will cost $17 million and is expected to take 18 months to complete, during which time the attraction will remain open. In addition to money from public entities, funds have been raised through the Battleship North Carolina’s Generations Campaign. Visitors and locals interested in saving the ship, area companies and organizations have also chipped in with smaller donations.

The latest is Piedmont Natural Gas, which provides gas service in Wilmington as well as other parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. On Tuesday, they announced a gift of $10,000 to the Generations Campaign.

“Piedmont Natural Gas is proud to support this campaign and help preserve this valuable historical site,” Piedmont Natural Gas Community Relations Manager Tammy Thurman said in a statement. “Restoration and preservation projects like Battleship North Carolina are important not only to our state and local communities, but also are vital to our nation’s history and to the education of future generations.”

Last week, professional soccer team Wilmington Hammerheads FC announced a $2,000 donation from funds raised through a special online jersey auction.

For more on the Generations Campaign and how to donate, visit its website.