A new dock will give Battleship North Carolina visitors a fresh angle to experience the World War II vessel, moored at 1 Battleship Road.
The Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant dock and kayak launch provide the opportunity to explore the marine environment surrounding the battleship’s mooring basin, officials said in a news release. Featuring shore-side lighting, the dock comprises two floating docks connected to an elevated timber walkway with an aluminum ramp.
Funding for the project was provided by a grant from Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy.
“We are honored to receive this gift from Piedmont Natural Gas to share with our visitors and offer them access to the Cape Fear River and across to downtown Wilmington,” Battleship North Carolina executive director Captain Terry Bragg said.
At a ribbon-cutting and reception to celebrate the addition, Bragg explained that “the dock is a lynchpin for education, economic development and contributing back to the community.
“We had a vision that we wanted to do something for our students so that they could study the Cape Fear basin,” Bragg continued. “If you just go right around the point of land in a kayak, you can go up into the original canals that serviced the rice plantations that permeated this entire area 100 years ago. You can travel the water, you can travel history, and you can travel the Battleship North Carolina experience.”
Meanwhile, the ship itself emerged unscathed after Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach in September. But the battleship’s visitors center suffered $2 million in damages and is open to the public while undergoing a makeover.
The ship, decorated with 15 battle stars, was decommissioned in 1947. The Battleship North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific, according to officials, and came to rest in Wilmington in 1961.
Recently, crew members who served aboard the battleship returned for their annual reunion. As part of the event a memorial service was held on the ship’s fantail last month.