USS North Carolina (BB-55) (Showboat) was the lead ship of her class of battleship and the fourth in the United States Navy to be named in honor of this U.S. state. She was the first new-construction U.S. battleship to enter service during World War II, participating in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater to become the most decorated U.S. battleship of the war with 15 battle stars. She is now a museum ship at the port of Wilmington, North Carolina.
She was laid down on 27 October 1937 at the New York Naval Shipyard and launched on 13 June 1940, sponsored by the young daughter of Clyde R. Hoey, Governor of North Carolina. The ship was commissioned in New York City on 9 April 1941 with Captain Olaf M. Hustvedt first in command. The first commissioned of the navy's fast, heavily-armed battleships with 16 in (410 mm) guns, North Carolina received so much attention during her fitting-out and trials that she won the enduring nickname "Showboat".
As the first newly designed American battleship constructed in 20 years, North Carolina was built using the latest in shipbuilding technology. Limited to 35,000 long tons (36,000 t) standard displacement by both the Washington Naval Treaty and the London Naval Treaty, to a beam of less than 110 ft (34 m) by the locks of the Panama Canal, and to a draft of 38 ft (12 m) to enable the ship to use as many anchorages and navy yards as possible, she was a challenge to design.